I hate public swimming pools. There is no way to sugar coat it. Taking a bath with 130 strangers is not exactly my idea of a good time. It does however, put my germophopia disorder into overdrive and leaves me craving a Silkwood-type shower to rid my body of all chlorine, urine, bugs, used band aids and numerous other offenders lurking in the cloudy waters.
I’ve been able to mostly avoid the public pool scene until this Summer. There’s no way around it. We want our daughter to be a confident swimmer. All the lessons in the world can’t make someone a good swimmer unless they have frequent access to the water. So we joined a pool. My daughter is thrilled. And that’s all that really matters, right? Well…
Wearing a bathing suit in public on a regular basis when you are pushing 50 isn’t exactly a picnic. The pool is loaded with young skinny moms and hot Au Pairs splashing around in their tankinis and showing off their trendy ink and piercings. What happened to the good old days where everyone wore a bathing cap and it was cool to be covered from your neck to your knees? I can hear my husband cracking off that it was when I was a teenager but even I’m not that old. Let’s bring back the bathing costume! Who’s with me? I said, “WHO’S WITH ME?” Anyone who’s not in their 90’s?
So even if I bring back the bathing costume, there’s still the swimming in public thing. I am a horrible swimmer. I may have been cursed when I had to wear nose plugs as a child. If only I could have had Aquaman for a dad. I guess my mother’s crush on Mark Spitz didn’t count. Yes, she had the full-sized poster of Spitz in his star-spangled Speedo adorning his gold medals on her bedroom door. I was the only one of my high school friends to be placed in the intermediate swim class in high school dooming me to slinging hash over the Summer as opposed to snagging a cool lifeguard gig.
As I stand in the shallow end of the freezing pool with goggle-eyed kids screaming and splashing while dive sticks are being wildly strewn about, I’m thinking this is going to be one long-ass Summer. Then, the whistle blows. A-D-U-L-T S-W-I-M! The pool empties and the cloudy water actually looks somewhat inviting. I sit on the sidelines during the first adult swim intimidated by the semi-professional swimmers doing laps with perfect strokes and somersault turns.
Doesn’t anyone do the “mom stroke” anymore? You know the side stroke with your scarf-wrapped head sticking out of the water so your beauty shop style and set won’t get ruined. I surely could not compete with these past swim team standouts.
As the whistle blew for the second adult swim, I put my fears aside and kicked it old school with the “mom stroke.” As I parted the buggy waters, I noticed that the lifeguard had a tatoo that read, “Carpe diem.” It was a sign – don’t be afraid. Be brave. Seize the Day!
As I was seizing the adult swim and feeling fully confident doing my mom crawl, some kid looked me in the face and shot me in the head with a super soaker.
As I was ready to seize the brat, the whistle blew and my daughter jumped into the pool with a grin from ear to ear and I remembered why I was at the public pool. And, why I’m bringing my own super soaker next time.