Sunday, June 22, 2008

The Swim Test

A whole week away! PP, naturally, builds her trips around pools, and the first stop is a cool lazy spacey swim at the always-calm Arcata Community Pool.

Here, away from the Bay Area and back in the water, PP finally starts to relax. She loves this pool. So close to her parent’s house in Eureka. Finally! They are living places where SHE can swim. (Even though neither of her parents has swum in years. Though to give her mom a LOT of credit, she did do her languid ‘noodle’ swims in Palm Springs after she hurt her back. Swimming, of course, cured her!) And there, too, in Palm Springs, at the Sun City Gated Community Clubhouse, there’d been a lovely indoor pool for PP to partake of.



But when the folks had moved to Eureka, PP was crestfallen! How could they move away from that perfect warm indoor pool where no one ever even shared a lane with her? Granted, the move to Eureka, might have been better for them weather-wise and more. But the pool?

It had been Heaven for PP!

Fortunately, she’d discovered the Arcata Community Pool, which was also indoors and also gleefully uncrowded. (PP is sure she’s written about this Arcata Pool before, but maybe not about its predecessor in Palm Springs.)

Now it was a Monday afternoon, round 1:30, and the retirees’ water workout was just winding down when PP and Dashingly Handsome Boyfriend arrived. Sure they had to share a lane for a few minutes before all the retirees got out, but the lanes were wide and the water was clear. When the Chatty Big Fin Guy in the lane next to them got out, PP ducked under the lane lines, and swam happily away. Her own lane! Such a rarity at the YMCA! But here, it was the norm. Something PP thinks the YMCA should make possible for her all the time, like the Hemophiliac Swimmer who always gets his own lane at the Y. It has occurred to PP that she could claim a Blood Disease to also procure her own lane, but this does seem a bit extreme and besides it’s already being done.

They probably wouldn’t believe her. Though those lifeguards at the Y are so stupid that…okay, that’s another blog.

Today, she’s blissful in the Arcata pool, stopping at the wall to turn round, her feet touching the weird squishy bottom. It’s so strange. It’s like they lined this pool with some rubbery flooring instead of the usual cement or tiles. PP has never swum in such a pool bottomed like this before. Wonder what its advantage might be? Maybe it doesn’t crack or get dirty? Maybe it’s cheaper? Maybe it’s just so PP can wonder about it in her Blog? Whatever, all PP cares about is swimming in her own lane until…..

“Excuse, me?”
PP stops at the wall hearing the timid lifeguard crouching down next to her. “But would you mind if he took a Swim Test here in your lane? It’ll just take a minute.”
PP glances up at the pudgy red headed kid nervously shifting back and forth on the deck behind the lifeguard. His pale fleshy arms twitching in anticipation.

Swim Tests. She knew them well. They were always screaming for them at Willard Jr. High when she used to swim there. “HEY LIFEGUARD!!! CAN I TAKE A SWIM TEST?” “ME TOO” ME TOO!”

Inner City African American kids clambering for a chance. Willard’s seasoned lifeguards would take it all in stride. Yellin’ back at the kids. “YOU KNOW THE DRILL! YOU GOTTA SWIM ALL THE WAY TO THE DEEP END AND BACK WITHOUT TOUCHING THE WALL!”

PP remembers watching these kids, their scrawny brown arms flailing about. Determination spraying in noisy abandon. They all wanted to swim in the deep end. This is where the diving board was. But they had to pass the Swim Test first.

No way would she have passed them. But they always passed. No matter how bad they swam. And PP did have to give them credit. They did get across the 25-yard pool and back again without touching the wall.

So today, seeing this one nervous kid eyeing her, PP shrugged and grinned, “Sure, no problem,” she answered as she pulled her mask back on and took off back down the left side of the wide lane, leaving the right side near the wall open for The Swim Test.


Out of the foggy corner of her eye, she watched as the Red headed kid plunged into the water, flailing about, his stroke spastic and jerky. No way was he gonna pass, she thought. But then, remembering Willard’s standards she wasn’t surprised when the kid reached the other side and asked the lifeguard if he passed.
“Yeah, you passed. You did GREAT!”

Uh? PP smiled to herself. Great? Well, yeah, the kid did make it to the other side without touching the wall. Evidently this was the only criterion to pass. PP wished that all of life were this undemanding. What if she could just show up at work and when a student asked her a really esoteric question about APA documentation, she could just shrug and make a good or not so good guess at the answer?

My, that would change her life.

And PP wonders if maybe this might work? If you lower your standards, then it will all work out anyway. Maybe this is what she did as a kid? (Why her adult self is so godamn conscientious, she’ll never understand!)

Yet she can’t ever remember taking a swim test herself though she must have at some point. She grew up swimming in public pools till her family built the enchanting fantasy pool in Hacienda Heights. And PP musta swam the Swim Test just as spastically as all these kids.




Or maybe not. Maybe she was a fish all of her life and when she took the swim test at the age of 4, she swam with the grace and confidence of a young Esther Williams.

Yeah, PP thinks this is probably the case.

Now if she could only apply this natural ease in the water to the rigors of APA documentation!

2 comments:

Kronos Gallery said...

thanks from the Eureka forests where swiming is for the birds, and for beautiful daughters...

J said...

You too can be the Esther Williams of APA publication guidelines. Just call 1-800-APA-YEAH and have your credit card ready.....