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Chasing the Black Line

1 Heart it! Olivier Poirier-Leroy 8
October 11, 2018
Olivier Poirier-Leroy
1 Heart it! 8

For the past five years I have jumped into a pool every day.

Almost without fail.

With ear plugs securely plugged, goggles fastidiously adjusted, I hop into the cold water and greet my only companion during the sometimes short, usually long swim workouts.

Each morning I walk across the cold pool tiles and jump into the colder pool water and subject myself to up to two hours of repetitious swimming around a blank-faced and slightly moldy black tiled line.

They physical benefits of swimming have been extolled and discussed, but it’s perhaps the mental and emotional benefits that are felt the deepest. They are harder to describe, and the reasons we have for going to the pool and swimming out our frustration or anxiety don’t always make for great conversation with others.

Swimming, in a lot of ways, entailed that you were supposed to suffer in solitude.

Like a lot of my peers who chased high-performance results in the water as a youth I abandoned the sport completely once I retired. The sport, for all its benefits and the friendships I’d made, had too much baggage by this point.

Going to the pool and being barked at for two hours, and then doing it all over again later in the day wasn’t all that fun. I was living a life of perpetual sogginess, the smell of chlorine my scent, the hair on my body slowly dying off from the extended bouts of exposure to pool chemicals.

The joys of getting into the water and swimming for the sheer pleasure of it had long faded from memory. Now it was all about expectations, pressure, and not letting others down. No wonder it was so easy to leave the sport behind. It was like wrestling out of a water-logged wool sweater; I felt light and free.

It took nearly ten years for me to be coaxed back into the water. Partly for the health benefits, partly to get some sunshine at the local outdoor pool, but the biggest reward of all came emotionally and spiritually.

The pool has become a place of meditation by accident. It’s become a place where I can disconnect from a harried world, where I can clear out the clutter and voices that obscure the one voice I don’t hear enough of–my own.

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1 Heart it! Olivier Poirier-Leroy 8
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