Monday, April 11, 2005


On Sunday I’m in the icy waters again. Icy, I tell you.

About four hundred meters into my workout, I’ve finished a set and I’m waiting about thirty seconds to start another. A teenager walks into the pool area with his girlfriend. It’s in the high seventies—above water, anyway—and he’s wearing shorts and no shirt. He’s sort of strutting around the pool with his girlfriend, then he gets a running start and jumps into the pool. “OH MY GOD!” he yells. The girlfriend laughs. Seconds later, he’s gone.


I’m not much of an athlete, but I’ve always had this conceit that I’m as tough mentally as anyone. And being an idiot and swimming in sixty-five degree water just reinforces that. So I’m feeling pretty good about myself after seeing that guy scream and run from the pool.

Tough. Tough, I tell you. That’s me.

I hit one thousand meters and pause at the end of a set. I see a little girl, probably about ten, standing by the pool with her mom. I already know how this is going to turn out, so I don’t really pay attention, but just as I get ready to glide from the wall, I hear “AIEEEEEE!”
I guess she got in the water.

Tough. That’s me. Go home, kid. This pool is for real men only. Come back in June.

I swim two laps, which is a hundred meters, and as I reach the wall I see something in the water, so I stop and stand up.


I’m tough. I’m very tough. I’m swimming with a ten-year old girl.

“Are you cold?” she asks.
“I am. Did you see the penguins?” She laughs.
“It’s cold but it feels great!” she says. My core temperature is plummeting. I’ll be spending hours under the blankets. Meanwhile, she’ll be at t-ball practice.

I make it another five hundred meters. At that point, my arms and legs have only the vaguest relationship with me. Time to get out while I can still walk. Meanwhile, Miss Mentally Tough is frolicking.


I’m glad I’m mentally tough, so I could make it home without crying.

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