The Last Swim of the Year, Dec 31st 2015

She zooms past me. A sleek spray of her fuchsia suit amidst the aqua. I’m a poky plodder in this Encinitas YMCA. Everyone is young, fast and beautiful. If there were a Swimmer GQ, they’d all be in its pages.

Miss Fuchsia would be the centerfold.

I was in awe.

She lapped me every few minutes. I stopped keeping track of how many times, but knew she was there, in my peripheral watery vision, zipping up and down the lane.

Then….wham! She’s comatose. Motionless. Floating and then sinking quickly. Her legs and arms are deathly still. What had happened to stop her flying through the water so suddenly? Heart attack? But she was so young and beautiful. This didn’t seem possible. Drugs? But would such a specimen partake of foreign substances in her beautiful body?
It hardly seemed likely.
The lifeguards spring into action. Whistles blowing. 3-4 of them diving into the water with the stretcher. Pulling her lifeless body out of the water, her porcelain limbs eerily still after their furious strokes and kicks just moments before. I watch as they drag her out of the pool. Lay her flat on the deck. Begin resuscitation efforts.

Hanging onto the side of the pool, I’m not the only one who’s stopped swimming. There are a number of us watching the horror before us breathlessly.

Then I spot one of the lifeguards, a dark haired gangly beauty, who motions at me and others hanging on the wall. I can’t hear what she’s saying at first. Earplugs. But she shouts louder, waving us away, “It’s okay. She’s okay. It’s just a drill.”
Just a drill? Shit.

I thought I’d just witnessed a sudden mysterious drowning situation on the last day of the year. Wasn’t there a way to notify all of us swimmers that we weren’t really party to deadly pool event?

Apparently not. And I suppose this makes sense for them. If we’d all been told there was going to be a lifesaving drill today, then the lifeguards would know too and then couldn’t be tested on their ability to go from totally spaced out to totally saving lives in 10 seconds or less!

And of course, I was so relieved that she was okay! Damn! What if I’d actually seen a woman drown on this last swim of the year at the Encinitas YMCA? What would that have meant? I mean besides the obvious loss of life.
That 2015 was drowned and gone?

Later, after Fuchsia Drill Girl had jumped back into the pool, finished her swim and was hanging out at the edge, I had to say something (of course).

“That was really scary back there....." I begin.
She smiles, exposing perfect white teeth below her soulful hazel eyes.“I’m glad you’re okay," I finish.
“Yes, I work here. The lifeguards have these drills 4 times a month to keep in practice.”

I nod, taking it in. Do I mention how scared I’d been that I thought she’d almost died? Or that there must be some way for the YMCA to forewarn swimmers that a drill is taking place so we don’t all freak out?
Nah, what’s the point? I’m only visiting after all. It’s not like this happens at the Oakland Y or Hilltop. At least not that I’m aware of.
Though maybe it should.

Instead I grin, “You’re a really good actress.”
Beaming, she shakes her sun streaked locks, “Thanks.”

She lifts herself easily out of the pool, grabs her towel from its hook and saunters off to the locker room.

I stare after her for a moment, then shrug. "Happy New Year," I call out to her.
She turns back and winks at me.
.....Nope. I'm making that up. But wouldn't that have been grand? Especially after what she put me through! Leave it to the YMCA to make my last swim of the year one I'll never forget.


Ruth Jameson said…
Well, moments like those do leave a lasting impression, but if it had been real, the impression might have had an effect about your next swim there...?
Cj said…
Yes, if it had been real....well, this is what I thought for several moments. Thank goodness it wasn't! Thanks as always for reading and commenting, Gilda!

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