Thoughts Underwater

8 07 2009

I was going to write something about the current wave of fanboy-ism that has swept over me these past few weeks – to my great chagrin, of course – but it seems that every time I have the opportunity to write, I’m not in fanboy mode, and when I am, well…there’s no opportunity to write.

So I guess, for the time being, I shall write about…swimming.

Yes, I’ve recently taken up swimming as my exercise of choice; the public pools are only a short ride away and they give discounts to us “swimmers”, since we come early (before 7AM) and leave early (before 9AM).

No, I will not bore you with my best times, or a detailed analysis of my stroke, or how many laps I can do before calling it quits (500m). Instead, I wish to write of two things: one, the Deep Pool, and two, the High Platform.

The Deep Pool is the diving pool: 16ft deep and 10ft square. Very few people actually use it, and since I’m one of the earliest, I usually have it all to myself after my “demanding” regimen.

Diving into the Deep Pool is an almost spiritual experience: its quiet underwater – peaceful. I can’t say it’s quiet enough to hear oneself think – it’s so quiet, thinking itself seems like an intrusion on the peacefulness. I forget about the technicalities of my stroke and just enjoy the slow swim across. Some people find the depth unnerving – my nerves come when I imagine other things sharing the pool with me. No, the depth is fine – beautiful, even, like watching a thunderstorm. Welcome, the deep says, I have been waiting for you. Dive into me; swim across; take your time; forget oneself for awhile.

The High Platform is a diving platform over the Deep Pool – about 9 or 10ft high, built of solid concrete. Only the brave dare leap over its edge, for no matter how manageable it looks from pool level, the height is dizzying when you’re up on it.

Many times, the height has turned me back…with good reason: A drop from that height plunges you some eight feet down into the pool. Flawed technique (yes, there is a method to safely jumping off a platform into water) usually means a painful belly or back-flop (and public humiliation as your friends tell everyone how you flattened yourself like a pancake) or ruptured ear canals and/or sinuses. Get it right, however, and something inside of you wants to do it again.

Yesterday, I jumped off for the first time in oh, a decade. No crowds, no jeering friends – just me and what seemed like an eternal drop into the deep.

There’s something weird about stepping-off into thin air – the adrenalin rush of seeing the water rush closer and closer, the heart (and stomach)-in-your-throat sensation as you fall for what seems like forever…

jump1-936

…and then the roar of the bubbles created by your plunge into the cool, quiet water and you are borne slowly up, up, back to the surface. If you did everything right, that’s the moment you wish would last forever…

…nothing but the warm, inner glow of accomplishment…and the sound of your own beating heart.

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