Swimming with professionals


Since the birth of my third born, I have tried to stay in shape.  I have had my moments where I have been really good and others where I have fallen flat.  When I was working on my second Master’s degree, actually called a CAS (Certificate of Advanced Studies), I really fell off the track. Before my pretirement from teaching in 2007, I decided to get back on the track, lose some weight and get in better shape.  I haven’t managed to get where I would like to but I am doing pretty well.  In spite of the fact that I have always been a self-proclaimed “sports reject,” I am actually in better shape than fellow family members, who shall remain nameless, who are sports freaks.

I have only belonged to a formal gym experience twice in my life; the first time was when my community Park District opened up a “Fitness Center” located in the golf course clubhouse.  That was right after the birth of my third.  That was great but didn’t last long, it ended up closing.  Subsequent to that, I was lucky to avail myself of the facilities for the staff at New Trier High School.  It was a very high quality situation and was very convenient.  I would often get to school early (don’t know why I say this since I never ever did anything but that) and head down to the gym before heading into the classroom. 

When not belonging to a gym I exercised by riding my bike, using the wonderful Concept 2 rowing machine (which I had first enjoyed in the school gym), or just walked fast in the neighborhood.

At my last job, I read info about how they were going to give us money to use to join a gym.  I did and subsequently found out that it was just talk, not actually in the reality stage.  It was a great excuse to join anyway so I paid out of pocket and have been there ever since.  It is a great situation, owned by the Park District, was the high quality gym where the Chicago Bulls practiced before the opening of the current Berto Center found in my town, and they have everything imaginable in what I consider to be a country club atmosphere (good thing for that since that is the only way I shall get into a country club).

Anyway, today I hit the gym very early to swim, as I like to do every other time I work out.  I have to qualify this because I do swim but have never been formally trained.  I am a sports reject, as a kid I was always the most uncoordinated kid and the last guy ever picked in gym class to be on a team.  Nonetheless, I enjoy being in the water and I like the feeling after a good workout.

I always check out the pool as I am signing in at the gym, to make sure that there are lanes open.  The pool is adjacent to the main desk, so that is easy to do.  Today I did just that, noticed that although it wasn’t 9:00 am yet, the lanes were full, but thought that I would try to get out of my mold, the old Rich would have gone to the main gym and worked out instead.  So I went to the pool and took my chances.

I really enjoy being in the lane alone, part of it is because of my unique, untrained stroke that I do.  I do a rendition of the breast stroke but generally keep my face out of the water.  I know it is odd, but it is decidedly comfortable for me.  Because of the wide breast stroke that I do, I really like the lane to myself.  Call me selfish, but I enjoy hogging the lane.  More often than not, if all the lanes are taken and I am in one of them, someone will ask to share with me.  I always say yes, idiot that I am.  It works out for the most part but there have been a few times where I have had to deal with being kicked, slapped,  and even nudged, while swimming.

Today since all the lanes were taken, I really was getting out of my shell, something my father’s friend Bill Kasper told me to do oh so many years ago.  He was right, but frankly, that man always scared the hell out of me.  Anyway, there I was, on the sidelines, and about to ask someone if I could share a lane when one of the guys got out of a shared lane and I decided to just take his place, not needing to even ask.  It was an okay experience, but when you are an unprofessional, as am I, it can be intimidating sharing the lane with Olympic wannabes!  Today was pretty funny, because the professional breast stroker I was swimming with actually jumped lanes the minute he could.  I was kind of proud of myself, because I am usually the one in that position.

I haven’t mentioned that there is a bit of a stubborn streak to me.  Would you believe that one of the major events in our children’s lives was learning to swim and the boys are all amazing swimmers.  Christian and his wife even met in college and ended up as Captains of the Men’s and Women’s swim teams at their Big Ten School!  To top it off, Christian’s stroke was the breast stroke!  I suppose I could finally learn to do things right but why should I when I am enjoying myself?

Another reason I love to swim is because there is often entertainment as I do so.  In the adjacent room separated from the pool by a glass wall is the Aerobics’ Room with lots of sweaty participants and music with a great beat.  I love to have music with great rhythm just about all the time.  There are often “Aqua” classes as well and that is always amusing as well.  Notice I haven’t explained why I find these events entertaining, perhaps because I am being kind in saying nothing?

So, there it is, my Sunday true confession, the reason why I like to swim laps.  To be honest, I love the all day feeling of relaxed muscles and calm that it gives me.  The only problem is that sometimes I just want to sit down and take a nap.


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