Monday, June 29, 2009

To Swim or Not to Swim

One of my friends has been swimming lots lately, and has been urging me to come have some fun.

I found my swimsuit today, and tried it on. It's okay fitwise, and I didn't notice any problematic holes.

I used to love to swim. I probably spent half my summer days in the pool from the time I was three to fifteen or more. I was never particularly fast or anything, but we played in the pool a lot. I used to spend so much time in the sun that my swimsuit pattern would tan through the light parts; one year I had an anchor on my front when I took the suit off. (Alas, it was the sixties; skin cancer is probably going to hit my generation hard.)

My big specialty was that I could swim for a LONG time under water without taking a breath. I gave a lifeguard a good scare when I was about six, and there was a competition (run by that same lifeguard) at the local pool. To qualify, we had to swim the length of the big pool under water. No problem. Then the main contest was we had to swim that, turn against the side, and swim back as far as we could; the one who could swim furthest won. I was about three-quarters of the way back, looking to the side to see if I'd passed where the other last person stopped, when I was suddenly jerked up from the other side by the panicked lifeguard who was convinced that I was about to drown. I wasn't. But I guess they never did THAT contest again! (I won a candy bar!)

And I swam in the river sometimes when I was in the Peace Corps (no Piranha where I was!).

And then having not swum in a pool for ages, I swam in a pool, and realized that my years of painfully, itchily dry skin instantly returned when I swam in a chlorinated pool again after having been not so bad for a number of years.

I'm wondering if maybe if I shower right after I swim, the chlorine won't be too bad?

The other thing: I started wearing contacts when I was 20, and pretty much always wear them. That means I either need to take them out to swim or not swim under water (at least not with my eyes open). If I take them out, then seeing is a problem.

And finally: I'm pretty self-conscious about my body. Yeah, patriarchy sucks and I've internalized and blah blah.


  1. A good-fitting pair of swim goggles will let you swim with contacts (I know several young women who manage this easily and they swim a great deal!).

    I need to get my swimsuit out and give it a trial run to see how it's fitting. We'll be heading to the coast in a few weeks and there are always the local freshwater beaches to cool down in.

  2. does this post resonate for me! i was also a pool kid -- once i passed the red cross jr. lifeguarding class at about 12, the real lifeguards even let me run around yelling at people to "WALK, DON'T RUN." talk about fame and glory. naturally, i got sunburned as all get-out, too.

    i've been contemplating getting back to the local pool, since i could use some exercise. even have a swimsuit. the body issues, though... well, i'm not getting any younger, so maybe you've inspired me to give it a try.

  3. Janice, You're brilliant! As is my friend, thank goodness. She lent me an extra pair she has, and it was amazing. I could see under water! Thanks!

    Kathy A. I went, and it was fun. I hope you go and have fun, too :)

  4. Swimming is the best form of release for me. Right now, I can enjoy an outdoor pool, but even in the winter, I suit up once a week and hit the indoor pool at the YMCA. It's great exercise and really liberating.

    And if you're going really fast, then no one can see you in your suit!

  5. If you go for the lap swims, you figure out that unlike when you were 14, no one is looking at you!

  6. Yeah, that's what I tell myself too: it's just a body, it carries you around, and no one cares what yours looks like. The bizarre thing is, this is true. Everyone is too busy having their own body issues to look at our body!

    I'm not sure this is cool, but it makes it easier to wear bathing suits.

    You can also do the xenobiologist trick.