Thursday, May 10, 2007

Early morning

I have been swimming more in the past 12 months than in the previous 42 years put together. Looking in my notebook, I see that since February I have managed 53 swims - averaging 3 to 4 visits per week.

Little by little you start to feel part of a community, a select club - especially the early morning swims. Go along to the pool at 7am (8am weekends) and there will be a group of men and women mostly in their seventies or eighties (even nineties) already queuing up to get into the changing cubicles. There are the routine greetings - handshakes, kisses, jokes, nods of acknowledgment. The younger swimmers - I'd say executives en route for a day in the office - are less chatty, eager to get in-get out and be on the road.

This morning I manage to be first in the pool. It's an amazing sensation plunging through the unbroken surface of the water and Cocteau's Orphee inevitably comes to mind. You become pure movement: arms, legs, lungs, a rhythm of strokes and kicks. Is it the reptilian brain reasserting itself? Or a return to our fish ancestry? Certainly it feels good.

And wasn't it nice, also, to be greeted by the German lady (who we'd always assumed was rather fierce), each syllable heavily accented: 'Bon-jour Yo-nat-an'. These two words conferring membership to the club!