Stroke after Stroke

My stomach muscles tighten as I slip into the pool, never quite knowing what the temperature will be. Today, it is refreshing and cool, a sharp contrast to the looming ninety degree weather. The laps slowly slip one after another, the bubbles tracing the movement of my lingering fingers deep beneath me, following my arm strokes one after another. The middle laps of this swim are my favorite as my body sways slightly side to side and every third stroke my head turns, first to the right, then to the left, gathering breath, then letting it out. The slight rumbling of the bubbles, the echoes of water lapping the pool’s edges, the occasional splash from a fellow swimmer are the only sounds to break the reverie. The sun’s rays fracture the water as it moves higher into the sky. The rhythmic motion lulls me into believing we may once have been a more integral part of the ocean, the lakes and the rivers, the water our long-ago home. As I close in on the mile, I am forced to concentrate, my arms heavy, the kick of my legs less vigorous, my breathing more labored. I finish, refreshed, tired, ready to start the work of the day.

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