When I arrived at Masters swim yesterday, for the first time ever, there was no coach on deck. The Nationals meet was being set up, so we were left to our own devices. In other words: Free Swim!
Now, "Free Swim" might not mean anything to you. But if you happened to spend any time in your youth at a public pool, you might appreciate those words as much as I do. Back in the day, Free Swim meant the time was now yours to spash, dunk, dive and manhandle your way around the pool. It meant Marco Polo matches, underwater tea parties, handstands and pretend gymnastics on the pool floor's balance beam, aka the lane line, and hour after hour of creative dives off the high dive.
Spending the afternoon goofing off at the pool meant freedom for us kids. In our neighborhood, we got dropped off at the pool in the back of our neighbor's truck. Car seats, seat belts, wha? We'd spend from noon to dusk swimming at the pool with nary a parent in sight. Our afternoon snack consisted of a melty Big Hunk that we'd shove into our mouths and then jump into the pool like we were getting away with something, since no food was allowed on deck.
Morning swim was organized as a team, where we honed our strokes and perfected our starts from the blocks.
But afternoons were all about the fun -- jumping into the refreshing water and getting a reprive from the 100-plus Arizona temperatures.
Which is why still today, some of my favorite smells are potent chlorine and the whiff of a new latex swim cap. Swimming for me is a pleasure - a rest from the heaviness of the world, a chance to become weightless and glide through one hour of the day. No pounding the pavement, no endless spin of the cranks, just a solo effort through 50 yards of cool blue.
Masters swim I will always love. But Free Swim - there's just nothing better.
Dreams That Have Come True
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