Posted: Thursday, August 09, 2012 1:37:27 AM
The closest I ever got to London was an overnight in a Heathrow Airport hotel when my plane was delayed in Abu Dhabi. Nevertheless, watching the Olympics on TV, I realized what’s missing from my exercise routine: swimming.
My Life with the Fish
When I was growing up, we spent a month or more of most summers at a freshwater lake, swimming almost daily. Eventually, instead of renting, my parents bought a cottage--everyone called them “camps”--a short walk from a small Adirondack lake. My father would drive up after work if he could or join us on weekends.
Absent lightning, my parents swam regardless of the air or water temperature. “Go take a dip; you’ll feel better,” they would tell me, no matter how well I felt. When my father was no longer in prime athletic form (he was a jock through college), his dips were indeed dips--in and out.
My mother, in contrast, holds records for the longest dips ever achieved swimming back and forth, parallel to the beach, in the slowest while still advancing crawl. Go get lunch, come back; she might still be going.
Uncle Max was even more remarkable in the water. Although he visited us at camp only once, his unique prowess was legend. A master carpenter by trade, Uncle Max could stretch out on his back, hands cupped behind his head, and float so high in the water, anyone would think he was on an inflatable raft.
As far as I know, our other relatives were just plain swimmers or beachgoers, except for my brother. He was a certified Water Safety Instructor. That got him a job at a summer camp, which led to a severe ear infection, which led my mother to extol the virtues of ear plugs for a year whenever I swam.
In my 12th year, I went away to a coed camp for a month. It was a crash course in living away from home, in a cabin with 15 other boys, and learning how not to roll off an upper bunk bed.
During that month, I was certified for Advanced Swimming. The final test had us in a pond, swimming in a circle for hours, showing correct form with different strokes and kicks. The water was cold and dark. They told us the pond was a converted sewage lagoon. I’m pretty sure they were joking.
When our son was about six, we lived near a community swimming pool, where I taught him to swim. Stick your face in, lie on your back, you can float, I’ve got you, stop screaming, lie on your stomach, kick…I can swim! When we moved, our best option was a hotel pool, where his swimming improved to the point that I could almost keep up with him. It wasn’t too much later that I stopped swimming.
Now, I stretch, use free weights, jog and walk. I never played golf, and the warranty has expired on too many of my parts for me to play tennis. But I should start swimming again. It’s great exercise.
Do you swim? How do you keep fit? (I hope you keep fit.)
Copyright 2012 by Warren R. Philipson. All Rights Reserved.