Why I Love Swimming

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Why I love Swimming

COVID was tough on everyone, particularly on us ‘older’ folks. It seems as if I have aged more in the past two years than any other years of my life. I never had COVID that I know of. I didn’t really get sick from anything during this two-year hibernation period. I simply couldn’t do as much of what I love to do, swim. 

It wasn’t just COVID and the accompanying restricted pool availability that prevented me from getting in the water. My right shoulder and scapula were causing some pain while swimming. That was new to me, as I had never had shoulder problems while competing. It was disconcerting, to say the least.

Finally, after getting several opinions, I decided to opt for shoulder replacement surgery, which I underwent last October. The arthritis was severe. The recovery has been relatively easy and now I am swimming without pain again! Hallelujah. 

I recall my parents, particularly my mother, often complaining later in their lives about arthritis pain. When one doesn’t have arthritis, it doesn’t really mean much. One cannot relate. Now, I am sympathetic. Arthritis is no fun. 

In my case, I believe that the arthritis I have (or had) in my knees and shoulders (all other joints are relatively spared) is more related to genetics than swimming, but who knows for sure? Either way, it is nice to know that there are replacement parts available (I had knee replacement in my right knee six year ago). They are almost as good as the original parts.

Yesterday, when I went for my 40-minute pain-free swim, it was sheer bliss. It took a few laps for my shoulders (both of them) to loosen up and for my body to feel like a swimmer again. When it happened, it was ecstasy. The feeling of being weightless in the water, gliding through it, mindful of all the little details that we teach to reduce drag, is something I relish.

Learning to swim fast is an admirable goal. It is not easy nor intuitive for a non-aquatic creature, like a human being, to learn to move through water quickly. To accomplish it requires years of practice, building strength and specialized tools, like ankle and shoulder flexibility. I love swimming fast, but that is not the only reason for swimming. In fact, these days, I rarely look at the pace clock. I’d rather not know my times. However, at any speed, swimming may simply be the healthiest exercise on earth. Why? Because it doesn’t pound you or beat you up. 

Not only was it joyful for me to go for a swim yesterday, but I also felt exhilarated for the remainder of the day. I could actually feel myself becoming healthier. God, did I miss swimming!

Swimming is one of the few sports that offers an over 100 years age-group in Masters Swimming competition. Not that I will likely ever compete again, but I wouldn’t mind being in that age group. If I keep swimming, I just might be.

After all, life is worth swimming.

Yours in Swimming,

Gary Sr.

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