What Swimming Means to Me

What Swimming Means to Me

When I was a child, swimming was something I was sort-of scared of. It was also vacation activity. I learnt how to swim right here in Bangalore, spending summer with my cousins.

In the in-between years, swimming has been restricted to sometimes going over to our local club, and pools in hotels where we took a vacation.

All of this changed last June when I was swimming around with my parents and my brother in a hotel and I realized: holy cow, I can swim! I’m not, by any means, supernaturally fast or good, but I had pretty great stamina even in comparison with the other three. My parents suggested I should keep this up in Bangalore, but I didn’t really have any hope about this. Where in the world would I find a pool, let alone the time to go to it? Still, on a whim, I carried my swimming costume here, thinking I’d make some inquiries.

Then, obviously, I forgot all about it.

Along with N and C, my two close friends, I started waking up earlier in the morning to exercise on our hostel terrace. This was fun enough, except we were barely ever doing half an hour of full exercise, and we weren’t waking up on half the days. Then one week, when I asked C if she was going to be coming to exercise the next day, she said: I may go swimming. (She has a new obsession with something called swimming anime.) OMG! I was super excited and of course I wanted to join. So we went with J to Vijaynagara Swim Centre, which is decently close by and is a beautiful, large, clean, and not very crowded pool.

Since then, I’ve been going as often as possible with many different people. There have been weeks when other stuff did come up (I don’t like swimming when menstruating, for example, and on some days I have been unable to find anyone to go with) but thankfully there’s a whole collection of girls in my college who are now interested in swimming, and between them one finds someone to with on most days (or so I’m hoping).

The thing about swimming is that I’m not very good. I had to relearn a lot of it. I can barely do 50 m at a time (though I swim about 400-500 m in the 30-35 minutes we get to swim there). Everyone I go with has tended to be faster than me. The changing rooms are yucky.  I end up ingesting too much chlorinated water. My hair has become awful. However, I enjoy it the way I never enjoyed running. There’s the same: I’ve conquered a mountain feeling when coming back, and I actively FEEL BAD when I can’t go.

People keep saying to find exercise you love. I didn’t think I had any. I thought you had to slog it out, but I realized that that “sweet spot” was never coming for running. With swimming, I’m already at the sweet spot. No matter how tired I get, no matter how much I’m aching afterwards, each lap is pure joy.

Inside the water, I feel beautiful, and strong, and fit, and healthy.

Swim Free.