Notes from the Road, #27: At the Pool, aka Failed Swim Test

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Anyone who knows me in the 3D world knows I love me some swim time. Always have, even as a kid, and even before I lost the weight. As I got into middle school, I shifted away from the pool, since I had no way over there, and I didn’t think I could go.

Besides, the one swimsuit I had from the last time I went to the pool was too small for me. I was also at a morbidly obese BMI, and had been for quite some time.

The pool went on the back burner as the years went by, complete w/ the wasted summers on forever job searches and health scares.

9 years ago, after I made the decision to move on from a toxic community I tried to hang out w/ for awhile before then, I decided to get back to the pool, and learn how to swim for the sake of my future kids. I found some swimsuits I loved in the size I was at the time, and I was ready to roll.

Since then, the pool was my summer tradition. Up until something happened in 2018 at the one I was going to. I found another pool a similar distance from my house, and started going there instead. It was the year of the accident, and that one wasn’t the most handicapped-accessible one going anyways.

Neither was this one, but it was close-ish, and I didn’t have to deal w/ the “someone” involved in what happened.

The pool was probably one of the best things I coulda done for myself before I lost the weight, and it turned out to be in my favor as I moved forward in my weight loss.

Side note, swimming is something I recommend doing if you’re starting at a morbidly obese BMI like yours truly did, 100%, both from a safety standpoint and from just good ol fashioned fun.

Each summer, 3 weeks a month, I’d be at the pool whenever I could be there. I was able to get a season pass last year, but not this year, b/c, well, no job, naturally.

So instead, it was the pool for me at the half-price rate after a certain time of the day during certain days of the week. I unlocked my bike and rode to the pool, very carefully since it needed to be fixed a year ago. I had the radio on one of my favorite country stations on the FM dial, since the one one the AM dial didn’t come in worth shyt. I’m guessing the terrain and the wooded area I live in has something to do w/ that, but I could be wrong.

I can’t even get that station to come in on my stereo, but on the little radio I have in the bathroom, it comes in great during the daytime. At night, it powers down for another station sharing the same frequency.

I rode through the neighborhood, in the heat wave of triple-digit heat indices, armed w/ my swim gear, listening to the classic country station. I rode past a house where an old friend of mine once lived, an abandoned storefront, an abandoned house nearby, and the Black Lives Matter community memorial.

I passed by what used to be a Hispanic and Asian market I lived for back in college, now a chain dollar store. That Hispanic market moved to a different location, but I haven’t had the chance to go there yet.

Everything’s changed in the years it’s been since I went there. I’d have stopped in, but there was nowhere for me to lock my bike to, and I had to be at the pool by the time the half-price admission started.

I made it across the bridge, watching as someone went boating in the marina. I wished I coulda been w/ them.

The pool was the next stop, only another block or so away. I found a place at the bike rack, unloaded my swim gear, and made it to the gate.

Just my luck, it was on the dot. I turned off the radio and fished out the $2.50 for the admission since I didn’t have a season pass this year.

To the right was the women’s changing area, and no phones and cameras were allowed. Sorry, peeps! I’m just gonna have to put you away for a bit.

Time to get outta my overall dress and rinse off. No need to worry about the shoes, since jellies hold up like a champ in the showers.

It’s the reason why I live in jellies from May through September, haha. It’s also why I wanna start up an initiative, Jelly Shoes for All. Like, seriously.

I found a lounge chair and memorized the location, since I wouldn’t be able to wear my glasses, which I’m long overdue for a new prescription for.

Hell, I got that entire pool layout memorized.

I got in the pool w/ the system I worked out, and slow since the water felt like it was about 20 degrees to me. That’s Fahrenheit, not Celsius, btw.

No life jacket, which I’d been meaning to get forever, but w/e. Goggles, check. Snorkel, check. Ear plugs, check. Nose plug, check. After I reached for my fins and figured out which one went on which foot, I was ready to roll.

I tried to go over to the deep end, and w/ the fins, it made it easier to pass muster. The music on the speakers played 1960s Motown hits, which I loved. I overheard a lifeguard talking about holding a swim test for all who were interested, and for funsies, I decided to give it a try, and see if I’d pass.

I’d barely passed the swim test at another pool years back.

While there was someone ahead of me, I went over to the slide to kill some time, ditching the fins and goggles on the nearby bench. After tucking my bikini bottom tie sides underneath so they didn’t get caught, I went up the steps, wishing I could bring some others w/ me that I’d come to know in recent months.

I’d worked out my system for the slide, after trial and error.

Near the pool was an old manufacturing company, and I’d often wonder how many of them came over to the pool to swim. Yes, I felt like that’s what they’d do. If I worked there, this would be my first stop on my 4 mile bike ride home.

Then came my turn. I could keep my goggles and snorkel, but I had to ditch the fins. First up, treading water. I couldn’t touch the bottom, which was like shooting fish in a barrel, since it was in the deepest part of the shallow end, and I couldn’t reach there anyway.

That part, I did ok on. Not great, but I wasn’t too surprised. Now, it was time for the moment of truth. One lap to the other side, and one back.

It didn’t take long before I started having a hard time, and my arm went numb. I pushed myself to make it to the other side, and savored every bit of the 2 second rest before I slowly worked my way back. At one point, I sunk into the water, and barely made it back up to the surface.

Didn’t surprise me, since I found out the hard way earlier in the season that I couldn’t float like I used to. I gotta admit, it’s terrifying when you can’t see anything either.

“You can go ahead and stop if you’d like,” said the lifeguard, probably shocked to the core, idk. “You’re working so hard!”

“I got this. I’m gonna finish what I started,” I said, moving w/ like the speed of an iceberg. I was never a fast swimmer, even before I lost the weight, so I wasn’t too upset over that.

I finally made it to the other side, and the news from the lifeguard didn’t surprise me in the slightest. I didn’t pass the swim test. I told them about the accident I was in, and showed them the lump on my shoulder partially hidden by the ruffles and pom-poms on my swimsuit.

It’s the reason why all my swimsuits have ruffles on em, other than that being one of the few options in my size at this point in my weight loss. It’s not foolproof anymore, but it hides the worst of it.

I wondered if I bit the bullet and got a life jacket like I’d been meaning to for the longest time, if I could have that and go in the deep end.

Nope. They don’t allow life jackets in the deep end, and since there’s a chance of sliding out of one, it’s not safe anyway.

Fair enough. I can see why, since that happened at the amusement park’s water park the last time I was there. The pain in my bad arm from that failed swim test was off the charts, and it fuckin sucked.

It wasn’t the future I had in mind for my future kids, but I’ve had a few years to come to terms w/ it and go through the stages of grief on that, haha. I feel like we can be twinsies in matching life jackets, and we’ll party it up in the shallow end. Besides, I’ll be setting an example for em.

Closing time was soon, so I got out and went for the shower. The pain from the swim test was catching up w/ me and kicking my ass in retaliation, so it was time to go home and call this a day.

The scent from that yellow bottle of Baby Magic shower gel hit my olfactory nerves, and it permeated the summer evening air. Nice! I picked up that Baby Magic gel from an Ibotta deal at Wally World a couple years back. It was originally for my gym bag when I had a monthly membership at a small gym in town before the pandemic started, and then it moved to my gym bag for the pool instead.

One of the lifeguards at the pool announced the upcoming closing time. Time to gear up, get my shoes and socks on, hair wrapped up (more like crammed into) a towel, and head on home. I put the headphones on, and turned on the radio. As I made it back to the bridge, one of my favorites came on.

I rode home on the short and strenuous route, since there was a fuckton of construction going on w/ the route I usually took.

I finally made it home, where I had dinner meal-prepped and ready to go. That time, it was a bag of baked potatoes, and some of those firecracker hot dogs. All I had to do was grab a potato, peel off the foil, cut it down the middle, put together the hot dog and the fixins, and reheat it in the microwave for a minute.

Time to call this a day and be done w/ it. I watched some YouTube videos on the Roku, and I got to thinking about my failure of a swim test after I took some pain medicine from the stash my mom had amassed. Don’t worry, it’s not prescription, it’s OTC stuff she had delivered w/ the rest of her prescriptions. She had like 6 boxes of it, and I’ve made it through 2.

Rationing it out helped, too, as much as I hate to admit that’s what I’ve been doing.

Anyways, I got to thinking: if I could push through the swim test and make it to the finish line, then that means I can push through this and make it to the finish line here too.

Missed the previous installments? I gotcha, right here: 26, 25, 24, 23

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