I used to slip in slowly and stand there for awhile, adjusting to the cold water, shoulders shrugged, hands and arms held high. It would take some time to talk myself into taking a breath, bending my knees, and going under.

Now, I just jump right in. No hesitating. No waffling. No dreading, just doing. This is the world we are living in now. Everything sucks…get on with it anyway. 

The cold is expected, but always slightly shocking. And, then it’s over and I stretch the cap over my head, adjust my goggles, running my finger around the edges to be sure they’re sealed.

My goggles are old and scratched. One of the straps is starting to break. It’s holding on by a sliver of rubber. I’ve bought at least three new pairs of goggles, but they never seem to fit my face and they fill with water when I flip turn, so I end up giving them to Lauren and go back to my old Speedo goggles. I can’t see much, but I can see the big black line at the bottom of the pool, which is all I really need to see.

Every time I take a breath, turning my head and lifting my face halfway of the water, I close my eyes. I don’t know why. I’ve just always done it. Probably to avoid looking at the guard watching me or the swimmer in the lane next to me that is invariably faster than me.

I’m slow as hell. And I don’t care. I’m not there to compete. I’m not even really there to exercise. I’m there to escape.

When I swim, I see almost nothing and hear nothing but moving water and bubbles for an hour. No one can talk to me. I can’t look at social media or hear emails coming in. I don’t have to see or deal with anything, except staying afloat and keeping track of my laps. 

23….23…..23….breathe …..23….23….23….breathe…..flip….24….24…..24….

A mile is 72 lengths. Sometimes my mind wanders and I forget which one I’m on, but I know that out (toward the deep end) is odd, back (toward the shallow end) is even and if I’m off one or two, it won’t kill me. I always err on the side of doing too many rather than too few.

Underwater, I sometimes get a glimpse of a sleek swimmer in the lane or two over streaming by like an otter. It’s inspiring, but it looks exhausting. I’m a barge in the pool. A slow-moving, lumbering but reliable and persistent vessels, moving along slowly and surely. 

What I lack in speed, I make up for in stamina and sheer determination.

Tuesday I wore a new suit. At length number 54, I felt it rubbing against my underarms, chafing with each stroke. Shit. Chafing is painful, not only while it’s happening, but even more so later.

I knew I’d pay dearly later, but….54 is not 72, and when I swim, I do 72. So I did my best to ignore it and continued on. I tried to widen my stroke. I felt the burn with every revolution of my arms as they brushed against the rough top of my suit.

Everything sucks…get on with it anyway. 

Even with the chafing and as slow as I am and as fat as I feel in my lap suit, I find peace in the pool. Senses dulled. World shut out. Mind occupied counting laps. An hour in which nobody and nothing can reach me. Nirvana in 72 lengths.

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About Just Write: Just Write is my adaptation of free writing, a technique in which a person writes continuously and quickly without little regard for spelling, grammar, or topic. It helps writers overcome blocks of apathy and explore everything from meaningful topics to mundane observations with the same effort and without the pressure of crafting perfect prose. I just start writing.

“What ends up revealing itself when free writing is that everything has meaning. That is a magnificent gift of writing. If we write from a free heart-gut place, our souls start speaking.”