jan 19/SWIM

1.6 miles
ywca pool
outside: snowing (2+ inches)
31 degrees

Hooray for another swim. Such a good feeling to be moving through the water. Maybe it was because it was still snowing, but the pool was almost empty. Excellent. Mostly, I swam continuous 200s, breathing 3/4/5/6 by 50s. Starting the second mile, I tried something new, partly as a way to stretch my legs/bend my knees without stopping: I added in an occasional 25 of breaststroke. It seemed to work well.

dancing shadows

About 1000 yards in, I noticed the pool floor was moving slightly. I think it was the faint shadows of the snowflakes falling* on the other side of the big windows that stretch across the one side of the building. It made everything feel magical and dreamy and strange.

*Actually, when I was swimming, I thought the shadows were from the trees. It wasn’t until I was writing this entry, right now, that I realized it was probably the falling snow making the dancing shadows. Very cool. I think if I had realized that it was the snow, the whole experience of swimming would have felt even stranger and dreamier.

In addition to the moving shadows, I saw one solid shadow line stretching the length of the pool — a shadow of the lane line. Where was that shadow coming from? The bright ceiling light or the light from the snowy sky?

Seeing these shadows and continuing to pay attention to them, shifted me into a different state of being, one that was dreamier and surreal, and where I rethought what was possible or impossible. I imagined the water as air that I was swimming through. When I reached the deep end and looked down at the pool floor below me, I imagined that I was flying high above the ground through empty space. How fun and distracting. I forgot how many flip turns I had done, how many laps I still wanted to do.

Some other things I noticed:

  1. the sloshing of the water (below)
  2. the loud voices of some women talking and joking (above)
  3. the water running guy, doing running drills in the shallow end, then pushing off and vigorously kicking in the deep end, then finishing with some freestyle
  4. everything seemed blue below
  5. everything orange above
  6. the water was not completely clear, but wasn’t that cloudy either
  7. no harsh chlorine feeling
  8. I swam in lane 2, no one ever swam in lane 3, running dude was in lane 5
  9. nothing floating in the water, only random bits of something on the pool floor
  10. little bubbles in front of me as I sliced through the water and a slight spray as I lifted my elbow up into the air

Remembered reading a description of swim practice and the pool early in the morning, thick with a chlorine haze, in Leanne Shapton’s Swimming Lessons. Thought it might be nice to collect a few pool descriptions. Also thought about composing some more swimming breathing poems, where syllables match my breaths: 3/4/5/6.

Happy Birthday, Edgar Allen Poe (b. Jan 19, 1809)

I randomly searched, “Edgar Allen Poe swimming” and discovered that he was a swimmer! I had no idea. I found a promising article, “Edgar Allen Poe — Exercise Enthusiast,” but it was beyond a paywall so I couldn’t read it. Then I found this bit of information on a listicle about him:

Poe was a big fan of the long walk. He took many solitary strolls over High Bridge in the Bronx in 1847, after his wife Virginia died. There, staring up at the stars, he would conceive his lengthy cosmic prose poem, Eureka. But he also liked rowing and swimming: as a young lad, he was renowned among his friends for swimming six miles upriver in the Charles River in Virginia, and when he moved to New York City (for the second time) in 1844, one of his first acts was to row a skiff up the East River, all the way up past Roosevelt Island.

sidenote: I want to write a poem titled, “Edgar Allen Poe — Exercise Enthusiast”!