Do you dive in or ease in?

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?



Filed under exercise, life

6 responses to “Do you dive in or ease in?

  1. Tom

    I have always been a “jump-right-in-er.”

    I’ll never forget swimming as a kid. In the mountains of Virginia, we didn’t want anything to do with a “Pool”. We had something much better. We had a river. We’re talking, a crystal clear, often spring fed, summer saving, Tom Sawyer like, Swimming River. All a kid needed was a deep hole and a pair of shorts (for us boys that is). With only a little walking, (or a short ride in the back of an old pick-up truck) you’d find a deep spot where someone had shinnied out on a big oak tree and hung a thick rope they’d gotten from their Dad. They would soon tie a loop in the end and the fun began. We swung as high as we could and we let go at the exact apex of the arc to soar through the sun-filled summer air, hanging in the pure honey-suckle scented breeze only to turn at the last second and break through the surface of the water with careless regard for the temperature. None of us walked in slowly. We’d stand in line bone dry and wait for our turn at the rope. If the water was cold we’d all laugh at the kid who’d just come up shivering, but neither the cold nor the teasing would keep us from our turn. Once we were all in and used to the water we’d start comparing who could swing the highest and who could do a flip or a one-and-a-half. We were all impressed with ourselves (and each other) until someone missed a rotation and smacked hard against the water from a “killer” high swing, absolutely flat on their belly or back. The resulting “SPLAT” would send painful shivers through us all, but any sympathy we had for the poor sap who’d done it was short-lived and soon replaced with “cherry-belly awe” (for us) and “cherry-belly pride” (for the sap).

    A swimming day that started as soon as our mom’s let us away from the house in the morning was interrupted by lunch, which we were all told we “had best be home for” and resumed after the obligatory 20 minutes we were told to wait (for reasons I am still unaware, something to do with cramps I think though I never had any). We would then be bound to stop our second swim by dark or by dinner, whichever came first. After dinner we’d all gather again to catch fireflies and to brag about how high we swung or how red our bellies were and how someone “could still feel that one.” As the stars blinked on in the clear country sky, we’d hear our mother’s call and we would run home before she took to using our full names, but not before planning on where and when to meet for swimming the next morning.

    Yea, I have always been a “jump-right-in-er”.


  2. Tom, what a beautiful narrative! Thanks for sharing that.

  3. Tom, I can’t seem to post comments on your blogger blog. Can’t figure out why. Weird.

  4. Tom

    I checked it and can’t find anything wrong. I just posted a “Bible Brain-Twister” a few seconds ago. Try it again when you get a chance and let me know what you find out.

    Thanks for stopping by and trying. BTW, your narrative about swimming was great as well as inspirational.

  5. If it were only 65 degrees and the pool was unheated, I would neither jump right in or ease in. Are you nuts?

    In a heated, indoor pool. I ease in ~ okay, that just aged me. 🙂

  6. I am nuts. Actually. But not nuts enough to swim this morning when it was 44 degrees. This morning, I stayed in bed, with my extra blanket, as long as possible. Then put on my fuzzy socks and got up to drink the HOT coffee my husband made for me. No, it has to be above 60 for me to swim in the unheated pool.

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