Day before yesterday I swam for longer, arrived early, and it was quite busy. There was a group of special needs kids doing laps. I waited patiently for an opening as all the other lanes were doubled. I had been nervous about lane-sharing since I had read so much stern etiquette about it, and it had been hard for me to see how two people swimming could avoid each other in a lane.
Anyway, I waited patiently and one young man with Down’s Syndrome and big goggles was walking past me as I wanted on the stairs. He was no more than 16 or 18 years old. He stopped a moment and said “Hi I’m Michael” and extended his hand to shake mine. I immediately took his hand and said “Hi I’m Joe.”
It was unusual inasmuch as I have seen swimming as a solitary event for me. I prize the time to erase the entire world and be immersed in the water and in listening to my malformed body. I listen to my legs scream at me when I kick hard, feeling my own mass fight with me as I glide and stutter through the water.
But the sociable handshake was nice moment. He was utterly guileless and when we were done shaking hands he moved on. Soon enough I was lane-sharing with another of the kids, who was being cheered on to “kick Kai, kick!” and not just, as my mother might say, dilly-dally in the water.
And then I swam. Soon enough Kai was done, and I was alone in the lane.
I wanted there to be a point to this post, some lesson. Whoops. There is none.
Have a good day!