Nowadays I swim laps once a week. I don’t always feel motivated before I start, but I always feel refreshed and energised when I’ve finished. Sometimes I fly, streamlined, through the water. On other days it feels like I’m swimming through soup, the water feels dense and I struggle to stay near the surface. Those laps don’t flow well.
There used to be a dangerous lifeguard at the pool. She’s moved on now, maybe to university, a different job, a family of her own. I don’t know.
She was young, in her early twenties, and clearly looked after herself: her skin was smooth and clear and her hair was glossy, reflecting rainbows when caught in the sun. She had a lovely personality who greeted clients warmly.
Herewith the problem: I finish my swims with a couple of sidestroke laps. It’s an opportunity for my body to stretch laterally, in a different way to how it stretches for my regular routine of freestyle, breaststroke and backstroke. Inevitably, as my lower hand above my head scooped through the water towards my torso, my top hand meeting it from the direction of my feet… inevitability as my legs scissor-kicked in rhythm to my arms, pulling up and pushing out… inevitably the friendly lifeguard would smile in such an engaging, welcoming way that I was smiling back without conscious thought to do so… and then I would be coughing and spluttering because my mouth had filled with pool water… again!
It didn’t seem to matter how often I saw her, I swallowed water every time she smiled at me during the labour of my laps. Disarmed by her charm, every time!
I hope this effervescent lifeguard is still charming people, dissipating their tension with the unintentional power of her beautiful smile, the natural force of her personality. People with her exuberance deserve the opportunity to spread their love, and to build memories of great times and wonder.