Hilltop YMCA Zoo
It was a ZOO! At least on a Friday night. (PP had swum last Sunday and it had been a swimmer's Paradise. Her own lane. No screaming kids. A lovely waving lifeguard.)
Yet, on this particular Friday, well, it was anything but a swimmer’s paradise. Unless you're an 8 year old fish.
And she was.
When initially her father (PP assumed he was Dad--who else would be taking an 8 year old swimming? Okay, maybe a brother or a cousin.) But Dad. This seemed right. He was encouraging, but serious. And so was she. In her little Speedo navy suit. Bright pink goggles. Hair pulled back in a pony tail.
She was ready to go.
Yet PP was dubious when she first spied a kid. A kid? Wants to swim in her LAP lane?
Yet, the Dad was so nice, "Can we share your lane?" A shy smile on his friendly round brown face; a weed-like tattoo on his bicep that was surprisingly non-intimidating. Maybe because of his daughter. How could he be a big tough trouble- maker with a sweet little fish at his side? (Though this is an old stereotype of tattoos, PP knows this. They have connotations of coolness or even ordinariness nowadays.)
"Sure," PP tried not to act too accommodating. After all, she'd rather have her own lane.
Obviously, this was definitely not in the cards this night. The 'family' side of the pool was packed. Hundreds of screaming, splashing kids. (Okay, maybe not hundreds, but it sounded like that many)
The ear piercing cries of "Marco Polo" echoing in the pool’s A framed inside arena. (Can't kids come up with another obnoxious pool game already? Hell, PP & her sisters were torturing her parents with this cry 40 years ago!)
Ready to Go Girl shifted eagerly back and forth from foot to foot, anxious to get started. Again, PP wondered how this was gonna work out. Circle swim? With a kid?
So when she asked Dad if they wanted to circle swim (and not very nicely either), he just gave her a big friendly grin and said, “No. That is okay. We will swim on this side,” motioning to splitting the lane down the middle.
Okay, PP nodded, wondering how the hell this was gonna work out. Though when she thought about circle swimming with a kid, she thought maybe splitting the lane might be the better option. For her. And as you all know, when swimming, it’s all about PP!
And the two of them did it somehow. Stayed on their half of the lane. Well, most of the time. Dad would take off. Daughter would follow. She was actually quite a good little swimmer. A most passable freestyle which reminded PP of her own way back when. In Hacienda Heights. Swimming back and forth back and forth, lap after lap in the dear little pool. 100’s of laps at a time. (It was a shorter pool than the Y, granted, but still PP was pretty serious about lap swimming, even when she was 10!)
Sometimes Ready to Go Girl would get too excited, want to jump in front of Dad and not wait. Once she was so anxious, PP stopped at the wall to let her go before her. “You wanna go ahead of me?” she asked.
RtGG looked at her wide-eyed through the foggy goggles, nodding shyly. No verbal answer necessary as she took off in a speedy flash.
She really was a little fish.
PP wanted to tell her this. What a good little swimmer she was. But they got out before she had a chance.
Yet, somehow, PP knew that RtGG knew she was a good swimmer. It was evident in her stroke, in her enthusiasm, but most of all in the way she followed Dad, so eagerly, back and forth back and forth back and forth.
There is something about the Father/Daughter swim experience, isn’t there? PP remembers her father and the Mr. Banana Buddy games and the Dead Bug games and how special (cliché yet true) these times were and the memory still is.
And so for all those fathers who take their daughters to the pool (and the daughters who can swim!) PP’s willing to share her lane with them.
Even if it is a Zoo.