Water has always attracted me. That may explain why swimming is one of my favorite activities. I spent my childhood summers in the local public pool. Long before air conditioning, it was my only relief from the heat that often made me sick. As a teenager, I became a lifeguard — as much for the proximity to water as for the potential income.
Young adulthood in central New York offered few opportunities for me to swim other than the occasional summer excursion to a nearby lake. I missed swimming, but membership fees for sports facilities were beyond my budget in those days. So, I was delighted when many years later my rheumatologist recommended swimming as fibromyalgia therapy. I could then rationalize the expense. I joined the local YMCA which has a heated indoor pool and developed a routine of swimming there three times a week after work. Tired as I was, the warm water soothed away many of my aches and pains and contributed to a better night’s sleep. However, over time, the chlorine became bothersome to me. My eyes would tear up as soon as I entered the pool area. Another swimmer actually thought I was crying!
Fast forward 20 years: I moved to Southern California, met my new husband and purchased a home. It’s no coincidence that we live just a few blocks from a recreational facility with a heated outdoor pool. I became a member there and settled into a morning routine of swimming before getting dressed several days a week. Then one fateful morning I dove in and surfaced gasping! The heater had been turned off to save money. No one had told me. That day, I stayed in the water only long enough to swim a lap or two before leaving for the last time. I later learned that the water would be maintained at 78 degrees. That temperature caused me to have painful muscle spasms later that day and the next day as well. Sadly, no other outdoor pool was available for my use. For more than a decade, walking became my exercise of choice.
I recently made a new friend who also enjoys swimming. She lives in a nearby gated community with a heated outdoor pool and few other swimmers for company. She eagerly invited me to join her, and I gratefully accepted. Three times during this past warm, sunny week, I had the opportunity to swim. The activity relaxed my overly-tight muscles, and it brought back memories of younger days, lounging in the sunshine, feeling free and unburdened by illness. In many respects, this week’s swimming has done wonders for my well-being. I can only hope the invitations will continue.
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