Looking up at swimmers from the bottom of a pool wasn’t something I’d ever really thought about doing. One- it’s kind of infringing on people’s perceived privacy in a big way, but also, it’s just not how I’ve ever swam before.
It felt like being in a modern art exhibit, or one of those movies like American Beauty with the scene of a plastic bag dancing in the wind, spiraling through leaves in the middle of a suburban street. Because there we all were, sitting quietly at the bottom of the deep end in the Y, looking up at the light rippling on the water’s surface, breaking with the bubbles we exhaled as we inhaled oxygen from the tanks on our backs. The water was so many more colors than I expected, with the opaque blue green at the bottom, lightening and clearing up as it got shallower, and the different whites and yellows of the lights and walls refracting against the surface. And then there was the middle-aged man swimming freestyle in patterned white, yellow, green and red shorts that looked to me like images of forks and napkins from a picnic on it (which I’m sure it wasn’t actually). We couldn’t see his head, really, but just his belly and legs pale in the water, swimming like any other person trying to hold on to the fitness that was starting to elude them.
It was such a crazy feeling to be able to sit on the bottom of a pool, breathing calmly, for pretty much as long as we wanted. It felt so surreal to be learning how to methodically and slowly respond to our mouthpieces being knocked out and how to put them back in and breathe again, how to get water out of our masks without returning to the surface, how to communicate with hand signals, and even how to play Frisbee underwater. Talk about amazing and super applicable life skills.