Thursday, June 18, 2015

Just keep swimming… and ignore the creepy people in lane four

For those new to this blog,  this will be my third year doing a local fundraiser called Women Swimmin'. It's an event where 300+ women swim 1.2 miles across Cayuga Lake to raise money for Hospicare and Palliative Care Services. It's such a beautiful event- I wanted for years to participate. One of the things that absolutely blows my mind about it are the people associated with Hospicare who thank you for swimming. When you climb up on the dock once you've reached shore, there are Hospicare people waiting to hug you, offer you a blanket if needed, and thank you for doing this event. It should be the other way around; it's an utter privilege to do this.

Anyway, to prepare for the swim, I've been training at the A&E Center Pool at Ithaca College. Thanks to my work schedule and the hours the pool's open, the only time that works for me to swim laps is when the pool opens at 6:00am. Oh yeah. Six o'clock in the morning. Which means getting up at 5:30am. (The pool is only about a 5 minute drive from my house, but it takes me that long to wake up enough so that I feel it's safe for me to be on the road in a moving vehicle.) I am not, and never have been, even when I was very small child, a morning person. So showing up to the pool and swimming my mile and a half before 7am may actually be the greatest thing I've ever accomplished, or ever will.

It's a curious crowd at the pool at 6am. I don't know if it's the hour, or the kind of character (or lack of sanity and good sense) that brings one out of their warm soft bed to throw themselves into a chilly tank of water and flail your arms and legs hard enough that you start to sweat in the water. One thing's for certain- there are regulars here. Let me tell you a bit about them:
  • Lane One- tall, lanky bald gentleman. Retired VIP with the college.  Does an interesting mix of one lap crawl, then this odd double-armed backstroke back. Sort of a two-armed Pete Townshend windmill stroke.
  • Lane Two- me. Until recently when it had to be retired due to sagging-ass issues, in my Wondrous Woman suit. And goggles that leave me looking like someone hammered shot glasses
    into my eye sockets. (Thank god for Bruise Relief gel.)
  • Lane Three- This woman is intimidating. She is here EVERY SINGLE DAY. I am not kidding. During the school year, I'd occasionally change my schedule around and swim on a Tuesday or Thursday instead of MWF. She'd be there. I'd switch it up and get my laps in on a Saturday. She was there. Beyond the disconcerting idea that maybe she's some kind of pool ghost that haunts the middle lane, that is some goddamned dedication. She swims exactly the same workout at exactly the same time, every single day the pool is open. I can tell what time it is by where she is in her workout. In spite of the fact that we have encountered each other in this environment for the past three years, we never speak. It's an unwritten rule of respect- we will not waste each other's time with the frivolity of chat. She does not suffer fools gladly.
  • Lane Four- Creepy couple. This middle-aged pair is a recent addition to morning swim. When I first encountered them, they were making out like bandits outside the women's locker room. At 5:55am. On a Friday. I can't even look people in the eye at this hour. I actually had to tap the woman on the shoulder in order to get past her to go in and change. And then, curiously, as I was standing at the sink getting my swim cap on, I saw through the mirror the woman come in, strip down to just her hoodie
    and stand pantsless holding her bathing suit under the hand dryer. She then put the dried suit on, went out to the pool and got in the water. She and her male partner (who wears a polo cap that snaps under his chin and reminds me of Teddy Beckersted from One Crazy Summer) then proceed to canoodle at one end of the pool, maybe paddle one length, then whisper sweet nothings to each other over their kick boards as they leisurely make their way back to the other end. They do about four lengths of the pool, then leave. The woman dries herself under the hand dryer again (WTH?) then they go out in the hallway and suck face outside the women's locker room entrance. They only appear on Fridays. Facebook feedback suspects they are a couple having an affair at which I must roll my eyes. That has to be the lousiest affair ever. "Hey baby, come to the pool with me at the butt-crack of dawn and swim laps with me!" What a fun sexy time for them. 
  • Lane Five- As of the past couple of weeks, Lane Five has been dominated by a woman who seems to have a Single White Female thing for Lane Three woman. She also wears these paddle-type devices on her hands, and goggles yet no swim cap. (Although Lane Five does a very leisurely crawl stroke, while Lane Three, to my befuddlement, swims a very vertical breaststroke with the paddles on her hands.) Lane Five also times her workouts to Lane Three, abruptly leaving the pool when she sees Lane Three get out. She has often tried to engage Lane Three in conversation in the locker room, but Lane Three, while polite, quite firmly discourages this. As I've said before, Lane Three does not have time for meaningless chitchat. It's Business Time for Lane Three woman.
  • Lanes Six-Exceptionally hairy dude in a Speedo who likes to dolphin-kick a lot and uses a snorkel. One day I was swimming in Lane Five and when I reached the wall at the end of a set, I looked up to him sitting nearly spread-eagled on the deck, his crotch directly above my head, adjusting his snorkel's headgear. It was enough to make my bypass my rest period and dive back underwater.
  • Lanes 7-9 tend to be the pros, the off-season swim team members or masters swimmers, sometimes two to a lane, which is nice of them to leave the entire lanes for the rest of us weirdos.
There's also occasionally an older Asian woman who takes extremely seriously the whole "please shower before entering the pool" directive that the rest of us wantonly disregard, a portly white-haired Wilford Brimley-looking man who also does a flinging two-armed backstroke and always wears his eyeglasses in the water, and my recent favorite, the two college-aged girls who got into a screaming, sobbing, knock-down drag-out fight in the locker room over the fact that one of them was not listening to the other. Or something.

You may think that perhaps I'm not paying enough attention to my own workout if I'm noticing all this
about my fellow swimmers, but in the course of 50 laps (the pool is set in 50 meter lanes now) there isn't an awful lot else to look at and one's mind does tend to wander. I figure I'm honing my observation skills, as well as building my endurance.

For more about why I'm doing Women Swimmin', visit this post from a few years ago. And if you're feeling generous, you can support my swim by going here. In addition to making my morning encounters worthwhile, your gift will be used to provide items such as medications, oxygen & medical equipment, as well as emotional, psychological, social & spiritual support to patients, families and friends facing the hard issues of mortality and loss. Hospicare's services are available to everyone in the community regardless of their ability to pay.  So in addition to enabling my chlorine habit, you'll be doing a good, good thing. Thank you.

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