I'm not a swimmer. Not really. Sure I can mix it up freestyle with the triathlon people each season, but only because I stay to the left. Far to the left. With the breast strokers and that one guy in flowered swim trunks. (You've seen him, he's at every triathlon.) And, sure, I've swum with Mabel. And, yes, the rumors are true, she's totally like a streak of lightning in the water. Then again, she was on the swim team in High School where they use to crown her with tiaras made of Rhododendron flowers and carry her around on their shoulders every Friday before swim meets*, so it makes sense. But, here's the awesome thing, never once did she make me feel like a doggie paddling flailing four year old. Of course, that might mostly be because when we use to meet up for sunrise swims across the pine tree encircled lake by her house, after about 30 seconds I never so much as saw a bubble from the woman. But that also meant that I could stop mid swim, flip to my back and just float in the middle of the lake as the sun turned the sky pink and the tops of the pines faded from black to dark green.
And it was peaceful.
But today? I got up at 5:30. To swim. In a pool. Inside. An inside pool I had only ever, genetically speaking, dunked like 20% of my body in. (Genetic Math Note: I've had my children dunked multiple times for swim lessons. So, taking into account "flesh of my flesh", at 10% DNA/child, times that by two (X2), it equals 20%. Of me. Also? That math is totally correct. I checked it with a DNA scientist. Note: I made up that part about a scientist.)
Guys? This morning? I walked into that natatorium, wearing:
1) my old XXL purple sweat pants from college. You know the ones. The ones that look like this:
and 2) underneath those ginormous purple sweats? My mom tankini. In black. For that slimming effect. Obviously.
So, there I stood, next to the bleachers, squinting through the cloudy layer of steam that had settled on my glasses.
And do you know what I saw?
A pool full of Mabel's.
And a dolphin.
Seriously! Swimmers were bouncing from one end of the pool to the other like they were in a giant pinball game. It was like they all watched a documentary on Olympic swimmers, went to bed normal people, and the next morning woke up identical clones of Michael Phelps. These things happen. I've seen Spiderman. I know.
Dude. There were lanes full of people swimming butterfly. Flip turns were going all over the place. Freestylers were as smooth as a well poured cup of coffee. The backstrokers? In perfect alignment. Like milk and espresso in the hands of a good barista. Also? They didn't run into the pool wall once. I watched.
And that dolphin? Totally showing off her breaching skills.
There was absolutely no more room in that pool. And the waiting swimmers? Were they sitting around, chatting, scrolling through their smart phones? Nope. They were drylanding. (Which is a real swimmers word that real swimmers use that I had to look up on the internet.) Sit ups? Check. Push ups? Check. Planks? Check. Chin ups? Check. Giant semi tires being flipped and heavy ropes tied around an old car to be pulled across the pool deck? Check. (Probably. Maybe. But not really.)
And, there I stood, at the side of the pool, glasses still slightly fogged, trying vainly to suck in my Jennifer Garner look alike baby gut that I had hidden so cleverly under giant purple sweatpants, intimidated. Dismayed. Daunted. Inconceivabled.
There was no way I was getting into a pool with these people. I would die. Litterally. Die. It'd be like riding my bike along the Autobahn. Stupid.
But I'm an adult. I've done Olympic distance triathlons! (One. Six years ago.) I couldn't just walk away! So I bucked up my chin, found a thin thread of tenacity from somewhere and had this conversation with the lifeguard:
Me: (quavering voice) Um, sooo, it's been a, um, while since I've been in a pool... (cast glance at super athletes) Is it, always like this?
Lifeguard: (knowingly) Yeah, they're pretty intense. It usually clears out around 7 though.
Me: (quavering, still, maybe worse, possible tears puddling in the corners of my eyes) Yeah... It's kinda intimidating looking....
Lifeguard: I know. That's why I stopped swimming at 18.
And on that note, I turned around and walked my purple XXL sweatpanted behind to Starbucks for a cup of coffee. While the dolphin glared at me, Mean Girls style. Then did a back flip.
But, do you know where I was an hour and a half later?
I was in that pool.
And lapping every swimmer over the age of 60.
(No. I wasn't.)
Because you can't intimidate a woman wearing a mom-tankini for long.
Until you get to the showers. And she attempts to take it off.
Because that can be really scary.
*I made this up. But, in my head, that's exactly what Mabel's high school career was like. Because, seriously, you should see this woman swim!