Circle Swim Hell

“We now do need to do the Circle Swimming. The way this work is that you swim up the right side….”
I roll my eyes at Butterball Backward Swimmer’s start to her circle swimming lecture. I don’t care if she can see me doing this; though maybe she can’t because of my foggy mask.

In any case, I don’t have the patience for her pedantics. “I know how to Circle Swim!” I harrumph rudely, still not caring.

Tonight the pool at the downtown Oakland Y, needless to say, is utter mayhem. Summer is in full swing and the anarchy splashes to a crescendo. If I didn’t need to swim so badly because of my bad back, I’d just get out, but the water is so good for the pain.

And so, I’m rude.

Butterball has been swimming backwards, splitting the lane for the first 10 minutes of my swim, but now Hawaiian Swim Trunks Man wants to join the lane, and oh hell, this should be fun.
He’s in the water too now. We’re all clumped at the wall as the gang of Asian Teenage boys toss the water basketball into our lane. “Oh…sorry sorry so sorry.”
I grab the ball and toss it back. Shit.

Why do I even bother to swim during the summer?And now circle swimming with these two?

“I know how to circle swim,” I repeat, “but do YOU?” They both gaze at me, blankly. They have no clue.
“Yes, yes that is of course,” Butterball nods.
“Great,” I grunt. “I hope you can pay attention,” knowing that they won’t know what this means, but it just comes out. Is it really rocket science to wait at the wall if a swimmer is on your heels going 20 mph faster than you?

Butterball floats after me, her backward nonchalance unchanged in the new paradigm of circle swimming. Hawaiian swim trunks man proceeds to practice a WIDE breaststroke that knocks into me each time I pass him no matter how small I make myself.

I keep thinking someone will get out and then I can move to a better lane, but with the Summer Mayhem Madness, no way is this in my future. And with only 30 minutes left before the whistle blows, I just have to concentrate on swimming around these two without getting kicked too hard. Butterball I’m not so worried about. She’s soft and slow even though she’s floating backwards and can’t see me. Hawaiian swim trunks man, on the other hand, is more of a hazard. I just have to stop and stand to the side whenever he passes me.

Is this really swimming?

It is at the Oakland Y at the height of summertime!

And so, later, in the hot tub with DL, when she asks me how my swim was, I have to just roll my eyes again and say, “Summer! I don’t even know why I bother! If it weren’t for my back and this hot tub, well….”

She nods in sympathy even though I don’t think she’s ever tried circle swimming here at the Y.She swims in the sea. Something I can’t fathom in the frigid No Cal Waters. When I’d asked Sandy later if she swam in the ocean, she just looked at me like I was bananas: “I would if there were a reason for it….” I crack up. “But since I don’t surf, what’s the point?”

DL giggles in that quiet delightful way she has when we’re in the final getting dressed phase of the Oakland Y. She’s all for swimming in the ocean any and every chance she can. Loves loves loves it. I get this. I love swimming in the ocean too.
Maybe I need to take up surfing again? I know the water’s cold at Stinson Beach, but hell, I wouldn’t have to circle swim! I could revel in the brisk rush of the waves. Float blissfully between sets under a grey foggy sky. The seagulls overhead screeching in obnoxious abandon.

My toes frozen. My head an ice cube. My frigid eyeballs ready to fall out from their sockets!
Nope, I guess I’ll just stick to circle swimming. It’s warm at least. And for this, I am grateful.
Because if there’s one thing I loathe more than circle swimming, it’s the cold.


Ruth Jameson said…
Ahh the joy of humanity in all of its many forms...but the warm is a blessing for those of who freeze at the slightest change in temp. And Yes the Hot Tub. it is worth it all for the back to feel normal for at least the time spent...

Anonymous said…
Circle swimming, ugggh. In summer, I'm sometimes limited to a thirty minute swim, but at least it's just me in my small lane, too small to share with anyone else. I'll take the trade off!

Hope you are feeling better and the swim therapy helps no matter that it might be fraught with peril and misunderstanding.

Cj said…
Thanks for reading, as always, Laurie Cat. Circle swimming at least has no time limit, except the frustration level. which can lead to a self imposed limit---that's for darn sure! And yes, swimming therapy is the best! As is the hot tub! If only I could stay in the water all the time, but alas, I am only a mermaid a few hours a week!

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