On the Team

I started working out with the Master’s team last week. I love it. And it’s kicking my pregnant ass. I asked my doctor if swimming hard was ok at this point and he said “sure, sure,” totally unconcerned, but I can’t tell if that’s because he’s Belgian or because he’s a swimmer or because he’s retired or because he actually believes it aside from all the reasons he’s probably more laid back than your average American doctor. Before I leave the house for practice every morning, I have to eat a banana and peanut butter and an iron pill. After practice, I’m so hungry, I have about a ten minute window before I start to feel dizzy. Then I eat a huge bowl of Grape Nuts. (Why are they are called GRAPE Nuts? There's nothing grape in them). Then about an hour later, I eat something again.

Not surprisingly, the most welcoming people I’ve met in this town (outside of the fishermen) are the people on the swim team. They invited me to go catch a king salmon on a sunny day. Yes! I love invitations! But I must be more of an introvert than I think I am. I turned them down. It was uncanny sunny, the sky National-Park-photo blue, and I had a date with Sandy Beach. And a book I could finish in a few hours. Maybe I should have gone fishing, but at least now I'm feeling, for the first time here, like I'm involved. I guess you have to become a part of something to feel that you're a part of it.

The swim coach is a spritely Turkish man who calls every woman baby and used to host nights at the coffee shop where he made Turkish coffee in tiny cups with chocolate and grounds that gather like silt at the bottom. He plays showtunes from a staticy speaker at the deep end and has taught me things I’ve never thought to improve. My pinky finger on my right hand “tries to get away,” which has been a surprisingly difficult adjustment to make. Forcing that puppy to stay stuck to my ring finger made my right arm cramp for half of the first practice. My chin is too high on the breaststroke; I don't hold my kick for long enough.

It’s a wonder how these small revisions never occurred to me. It’s scary, really, to learn how much more efficient you can be when you have someone else pointing out how to do it better. It makes me feel like I should have a consultant for everything I do. Where are my other Achilles Heels, and can I find them without someone else's diagnoses?

What I can pinpoint are my own limitations. I dropped down to 50's sprints instead of 100's, and I can't do seven strokes for every breath. It’s probably better for me to start scaling back, anyways, now that I’m only 10 weeks from my due date. The coach told me this week I’d better get enough oxygen to my little girl and not push it too hard. I told him I’m not sure if it’s a girl or a boy, and he said he's sure, it's a girl in there.

We've decided on names. Now we wait.