Now my kids are involved with our subdivision’s swim team. When we first got started, my then four-year-old struggled down his lane looking more like he was drowning than swimming. I had to fight the urge to jump in and save him with each bob of his little head.
He grew up to be a lifeguard as a teenager and now runs that same swim team as head coach.
A few years later my daughter decided she wanted to be on the team because her big brother was. You had to be able to swim the length of the pool in order to join. So with her characteristic, iron-willed determination crammed into a preschool body, she plunged in and swam the fastest, funniest little dog paddle I’ve ever seen. Now also a teenaged lifeguard, she seems to slip through the pool with the long-legged ease of a water nymph.
Swim meets last a long, long time. So long that my survival depended on learning to love it all—from the bullhorn to the banners to the warm, heavy honeysuckle musk of sultry summer night air.
But here’s my little secret: it’s the properties of pool water that I really love. It’s weird, I know, but I am mesmerized by the shifting shimmers of color, the shivers of light, the sparkle of a silver splash. I was horrible as a stroke judge. Everything was okay in the beginning of those Monday night meets when I could remain transfixed by the fluidity of movement. But as the sky darkened, I had to fight the hypnotic draw of the movement of fluid instead.
Because the most exotic magic happens at night when the sky turns to cobalt and the pool lights up in that molten-turquoise glow with streams of golden bubbles. Oh, those bubbles! Silver in the day but gold at night—there and then gone, a precious treasure, alchemy of air, champagne of summer nights.