When I get down to the pool early in the morning, the moon shining overhead, I am in no hurry to dive in. Every morning, it’s the same. I stand on the cement deck thinking how much I’d rather be in bed. I put down my towel and water bottle and take off my cover-up. Then I put on my swim cap and walk toward the water.
As I stand inches away from the unheated pool in the 65-degree air, I rub my hands together and take a deep breath. Then I begin to inch my way in. One foot on the first step. I shiver. The other foot on the first step. The cold water swirls around my ankles as I take a deep breath and step down to the next step.
Little-by-little, I ease my way into the water. Some mornings I think I’m slowly numbing my body in the cold water, bit by bit. When I am up to my waist, I take a deep breath and submerge myself up to my chin. Then I move my arms around and jog in place to warm up. Gradually I begin to feel warmer and the water doesn’t feel so bad.
Then I am ready to swim. And I prepare myself to push off for my first lap.
Of course, while I am working through the motions of my ease into the pool, my swimming partner, Julie, jumps in, sits down on the second step, straps on her flippers, and swims her first two or three laps.
For the first several mornings, Julie would be ready to swim and I’d be standing on the second step, reminding myself of all the reasons for being out there in the dark. And Julie would look up at me and ask, “You OK?” Now, I guess she knows that I’m going to slowly ease my way in.
The first morning, I tried to jump right in and start swimming laps. But the cold water took my breath away. In that painful, my blood is now freezing inside my veins, I really can’t breathe at all, every shallow breath feels like I’m being stabbed in the chest, sort of way. I couldn’t breathe well the entire half-hour I swam, and I didn’t really breathe normally until after I was showered and dressed and getting the children up.
The next morning, I tried my easing-my-way-in technique, and it worked much better for me. Julie’s diving-in works for Julie, but my easing-in works for me. In trying to be like Julie, I almost froze the breath right out of me.
So, which are you? Are you like my friend Julie? Do you jump right in and get moving? Or are you like me? Do you ease your way in, bit-by-bit getting used to the water? Or do you have a completely different way of getting in?