Generally speaking, I am one of the laziest people I know. Many people just say this to create conveniently low expectations of themselves, but I have no such plan in mind. I always fulfill my obligations, but if I have no obligations, I’ll simply sit. I will sit all day if I have to.
Recently, however, I have begun exercising. At my parents’ home during the winter break that seemed to last an eternity, I began to feel a little too relaxed. I enjoy rest and relaxation as much as the next person, but when I was still exhausted after twelve hours of sleep a day, I realized there was a problem.
To rectify my state of extreme lethargy, I began going to a local gym to swim laps. Over the next few weeks, I found myself enjoying the workout time and even making some friends. There were a couple of old guys that I would talk to briefly in between sets. In between my sets that is. They mainly hung around at the edge and chatted.
I was rather out of breath for my first few swims, but I have since gained more stamina and determination. I credit my improvement partly to swimming on a regular basis, but mostly to my competitive nature. This may seem to conflict with the laziness described above, but there is no inconsistency. If I am sitting, I have no one to beat. If I am engaged in an activity–any activity–I must be the best.
The days where I am alone in the pool are my worst workouts. If there is anyone else in the pool, I will push myself to the point of pain. It doesn’t matter if there is only an elderly woman in the lane next to me doing the frog kick. I will make a point to lap her.
The elderly woman example is a little silly, but I will do the exact same thing if there are guys in the pool who are my age and clearly swim competitively. I will try to keep up with them and then regret my decision later.
I’ve seen t-shirts and other merchandise with phrases like, “Play [insert sport] or die.” Nowhere is that statement more applicable than in swimming. If you’re in the pool and stop swimming you could quite literally die. Many people have a fear of water for this reason, and I’m thankful I’ve never had to overcome that legitimate phobia.
My mother likes to brag that I was in the pool before I could walk. This is not an exaggeration. Instead of filling up the kiddie pool for me to splash around in, she would put me in the empty kiddie pool and stick me in the regular pool with my older siblings. I’m not sure whether this puts her on the good or bad side of parenting, but it probably contributed to my fondness of the water.
When I was a little older, I would float, motionless, with my head in the water. I’m not sure why I did this as a four-year-old, but I recall being saved unnecessarily on more than one occasion. After playing dead, I went on to receive my certificates of achievement as a minnow, guppy, dolphin, and eventually joined the city swim league.
I sometimes regret quitting the swim team in favor of playing softball in high school, but I’m sure it was the right decision at the time. I went to a school where basketball and volleyball were the reigning sports. The neglected swimming program was young, practiced at the community college, and had only ten members. I wasn’t willing to be a part of a new sport at a school where guys in Speedos were made fun of for “being gay.”
Over the last month, I’ve become nostalgic for my summers on rec league swim team, but I’ll just have to be satisfied with swimming laps by myself. Although I don’t get a ribbon for secretly racing old ladies, I’m confident in my victory.