Lady Behind Counter: Hello, how can I help...?
Several minutes, hand signals and garbled speech later, I arrived in the new Changing Village.
Unisex, to you and me.
Luckily, this session was ladies only.
The pool looked the same. My body... not so much. I decided to take it steady and see if there were any muscles left which might remember what swimming felt like. A couple of laps in and I stopped to catch my breath and spit in my goggles. The challenge was on. It was one thing to tootle along chatting to your girlfriend, blocking the lane as you go, trying to keep your hair dry! Quite another to see goggle woman speeding towards you daring you to play chicken.
Unwritten rule of the swimming pool:
Goggle swimmers will always win.
We are focused.
We mean business and waste no time between laps bobbing around the shallow end chatting about diets.
I set off and stopped almost immediately to un-steam my goggles.
Well, it has been a while.
Eventually I found my rhythm (always struggle to spell that word,) and the water parted at my command. Breast stroke, naturally. There were too many women clucking in every direction for me not to be able to see where I was going. Every now and then I had to tread water until a suitable break in the traffic opened up. I felt like Nimo's Dad swimming against the tide of a school of fish, just trying to get home.
I got kicked a few times, as you do. Unintentionally...
Man, it felt good to be back in this weightless foetal world, feeling every pull, every strain unknotting - uncoiling, months - years worth of stress.
Inhale - stroke - exhale - stroke - inhale - stroke... until I didn't have to think about it anymore. As natural as breathing which is strange because that's been the most difficult task of late.
The pool thinned out. The Cosmetics already heading for the showers.
I turned on my back and kicked in. Arms thrashing wheel-like. I was superhuman. Even the life guards could see this woman did not need saving. She was swimming for her life and winning.
Forty lengths later I climbed out the pool, exhilarated.
Ignoring the swollen-red indents around my eyes, I gave in to gravity as the weightlessness left me to drag myself slug-like but victorious, back to the changing room.