Entry: competitive edge Saturday, July 09, 2011



there is another gear


I hadn't known it before really because as a youngster I was not an athlete. Though not the biggest of couch potatoes -- I have always enjoyed a amble among trees or at a riverside -- fond of a long walk to sit in the park among trees. I was not a sporty, active, athletic girl and certainly not an athletic competitor. Part of how I enjoy swimming is as a solitary sport that can include other people. In fact, I enjoy the camaraderie of the pool and locker room. But swimming is an intensely personal, individual accomplishment.
Hmmmm - but competition is about other people.
there is an absolute bliss in competing -- I found out this week. I was doing my mild lap -- my repetition of my same strokes and breaths and kicks that gets me down to the wall at the end of a lane. I like riding out and pulling my body out horizontal as elastic as I can and feeling the buoyancy -- and feeling breaths lifting me and gliding -- my entire body feels as if it is smiling -- so that swimming my laps is a contemplative exercise though it is physically challenging. I do love the feeling of strength when my arms move and my legs kick. And I enjoy the rhythmic coursing of breaths.

a man in the lane to the left of me entered the water a hair's breath after me. He wore a very bright blue cap. I swam and he came abreast of my left shoulder -- I think this is what I felt and saw. My body changed gears and started to move more fast -- more efficiently. I surprised myself that I did not slow or stop altogether or simply concede that the younger, better swimmer would reach before me. I reached the wall ahead and he pulled up and looked over at me when he reached. I felt a real thrill. Well it followed that I was a little scared to turn at the wall and start back. Often I have the tiny fear that I have used all of the energy I have and can't recover. But each time I swim I feel that I swim better. I love this about swimming. It is always something that I am proud that I can do.

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