Sunday mornings I go swimming at our local leisure centre. I usually get there from around 8am to 9am - the earlier I go the less kids, so though I swim in a lane, it's quieter if I go earlier.
I go regularly and so do others, of course. Because I am not set to a precise time every week, I tend to see different people. And, as I can't resist observing, I also watch these people (I am not a speedy swimmer so there is plenty of time).
Sometimes I just watch the water - the sunshine creating patterns that shimmer and dance, seeing how the movement of my hands sends whorls of current scattering the light. I enjoy the sensation of swimming, of being light and able to move in the water with the buoyancy of this marvellous element.
But back to people! There are two ladies (older than me) who go regularly. One is dark haired, the other (bottle) blonde. If they are in the 'slow lane' (my favourite haunt) with no one else, they go up and down together, side by side instead of following. And they walk the first half, right up until they have to swim, because they are so deep in converstation. These are not ladies who lunch, but the 'ladies who swim'. The darker haired one is a grandmother - and when her child arrives with partner and their two twin babies, she lights up. She abandons the lane and heads to the 'free for all' section to dote upon her two grandchildren. And they are incredibly cute and love their swimming, even though they must be less than a year old.
Then there is the couple who swim in separate lanes. She in the 'medium lane', and he with me in the 'slow lane'. There are signs at the end of each lane with arrows showing which way round to swim - up one side, down the other. Mostly you can gauge which lane to be in by who's already in there and how they compare to your natural pace.
The man I reminds me of a whale - not because he is huge (he is large, not huge) but because he breaches on each stroke, like a whale. His back rises and his head plunges - all the way up and down the pool.
Then there is 'grunter'. Another chap who plods slowly up and down and makes a female-tennis-player type grunt with every stroke. These are all familiar faces to me, as we share the slow lane at different times (all of us at once would be madness!). Today I went swimming and I have a new person to add to my list of characters - she is 'bubbles'. On the downstroke she blows out through the mouth (not uncommon, of course) but makes lots of bubbles (noticeably!) and also a noise. You make some noise when you breathe out, but to make this odd sound she must actually vocalise. So - even from the other end of the pool - you can hear her bubbling as she rises and falls in the water.
I wonder what, if anything, they think of me? I must have some foibles, but mostly I am just slow. I don't swim to be competitive or for a massive health workout, I swim because I like it. I am in my own space, in my head, I can think about anything or nothing and just enjoy the sensation of exercise without stress or competition.
By the way - the photo is just one I nabbed of the net - from a club in the USA. I just liked the picture!