By Phyllis J. Lubin
“Do you realize it is supposed to feel like negative 10 degrees tomorrow morning?” my eldest daughter warned me Sunday evening.
“So, we will dress warmly!” I pointed out.
“It’s going to be super-cold; I’m just not interested.” When my eldest daughter makes up her mind, there is usually no arguing with her.
“We plan on swimming indoors, not outdoors! And the pool is heated!” I felt a need to state the obvious.
“We swim on Wednesdays. I was planning to go on Wednesday. It’s just going to be too cold to go swimming tomorrow.”
But despite this personal weather report, Rochel and I dressed warmly and made our way over to the Long Beach Rec for my favorite form of exercise. Rochel is home on winter break and she is no stranger to cold weather. She is entering her final term at SUNY Albany and knows how to keep warm despite single-digit temperatures. In fact, she is a member of the SUNY Albany swim club and can outswim me anytime!
I’ve gotten back into the groove in recent months. I’m proud that my eldest daughter and I have committed to swimming at least once a week. I’d like to say we go rain or shine, although I’m trying to be realistic. But a little cold isn’t going to keep me away. And last week, with the bonus day off on January 2, we actually bumped up the swim to both Monday and Wednesday. So I’m aiming to make it over the bridge twice a week when possible.
We had been swimming at the Echo Park pool for the past few months, but, alas, Echo is closed for its yearly maintenance for a few weeks, which prompted our foray to Long Beach. Last week it felt good getting back to our “summer city” for a brief moment in time. We were on the bay side, and didn’t actually see the boardwalk, but being in this summer town gave me some summer spirit.
As a kid, I loved swimming. Or, I should say, frolicking in the water. I didn’t actually swim laps; rather, I enjoyed jumping up and down in the water with my friends, and of course having breath-holding contests under the pool’s surface. Swimming laps was something I had to do to pass a deep-water test in day camp or a “canoe test” once I was in sleepaway camp. It was not something I particularly enjoyed unless it was to win a race across the pool.
So how did I make this transition? What makes me actually enjoy swimming numerous laps across the pool “lishmah”—just for the sake of swimming?
Over the past couple of decades, I somehow went from frolicking to swimming. I can’t even say that I was a swimmer when I became a swim instructor. Don’t get me wrong—already at that point I surely enjoyed swimming across the pool and then to the bottom of the pool. But I would tire quickly, and really needed to push myself all those years ago to have the stamina to complete the exam for lifeguard certification.
I always wanted to be able to swim more frequently; I just didn’t. Something I’ve discovered in my time here on Earth so far is that nothing just comes naturally. If you really want to do something, you have to push yourself. I heard recently at a Weight Watchers group that you can’t just be “interested” in doing something (i.e., losing weight)—you have to actually do it! There needs to be an action to result in the proper reaction.
And so over the past 20-plus years I’ve slowly been trying to build up my stamina. And this year, with my reinvigorated commitment, I am seeing my hard work pay off. I don’t give up now after a few laps. I am in it for the long haul.
I’m proud to say that my interest in swimming has rubbed off on all of my children. All of them can swim a pretty nice front crawl, and three out of the six are lifeguards!
There is something very freeing about swimming laps. You don’t need a partner in this sport (although it does push me when I take someone along for the trip), and you have the time to focus completely on this one task without life’s worries getting in the way.
So swim on, my readers, despite the frigid temperatures. I heard a rumor that it might go above 50 degrees on Thursday. Enjoy!
Phyllis Joy Lubin is an attorney with Maidenbaum & Sternberg, LLP, who resides in Cedarhurst with her husband, Leonard. They have six children—Naftali, Shoshana, Rivka, Rochel, Yosef, and Lea—and a daughter-in-law, Nina. The author welcomes your questions and comments at MothersMusings@gmail.com.