Saturday, August 29, 2015


Here is an unusual still life -- the tools that serve 
to help me become a better swimmer.
Most days, I travel to and from practice with
a pair of what looks like a pair of blue fairy wings
sticking out of my backpack. 
They are fins designed to help me improve
my position in the water, to strengthen my kick,
and to help my ankles increase flexibility.
I can tell you that, from the first I could feel the effects 
of the fins, strengthening the muscles of my butt.

The pair of green leaf-like objects are
hand paddles, meant to add resistance
as one pulls against the water. They also serve
to help the swimmer achieve the correct 
position for their hands as they enter the water. 
It's a purposeful action; the incorrect angle just 
about brings one me to an embarrassing 
halt in the water until I get myself 
sorted out to begin again.
The paddles come in graduated sizes.
These are the smallest because
I have a bit of osteoarthritis in one shoulder
and too-large paddles can cause injury.

The goggles and swim cap are more familiar
items, with my silicone cap having
a Roy Lichtenstein-inspired design, in keeping
with my artistic interests.
The last is a pink and black pull buoy,
a piece of dense foam rubber one puts
between one's legs while practicing "pull sets,"
which is swimming without kicking 
in order to strengthen one's arms. 
The buoy helps to maintain body position.

I've added these training aids bit by bit
on my own. As I've improved and become
stronger, I started to look for additional assistance
to be more able to compete keep up with
my teammates. I've started to have goals for myself
that go beyond just getting to the other end
of the pool; I've started to think about winning.
And that's scary.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

What's a "Lido"?

We've entered the last few weeks of summer. 
The light is changing and the days are getting shorter.
The water in the pool at the Riviera Club is 
getting cooler; we swim in and out of shaded 
and sunlit patches, the temperatures 
markedly different in each one.
I like the cooler water, prefer it even, to the
warmer temperatures that are really tiring to swim
in for a length of time. Yeh, I bitch and moan,
but it's really pleasant overall.

The Riviera Club is old, opening in 1933, 
and has that gangly spread out feeling of having
been enlarged and expanded into spaces
wherever they can be found. It has a homey, 
comfortable atmosphere. The pool is the size
of two (American) football fields with areas 
for lap swimming, water exercises/calisthenics, as
well as slides for children in a large baby pool.  

I've often seen pools called "lidos" on an English
website called Outdoor Swimming Society.
The term, I think, came from the Italian word for beach
and refers to outdoor public swimming areas
and their surrounding facilities. 
I've often wondered whether the Rivi 
may be regarded as a lido. Even though use of
the facilities usually requires membership, 
non-members may participate for an additional fee.
No matter, this is *my* little bit of Venice.
My own lido.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Talking to Each Other, Not Their 'Phones

A post on The View from Squirrel Ridge reminded me 
of this photo. I took it a couple weeks ago 
while walking along the Central Canal.
At the first sign of warm weather, people use the
canal for exercise - rowing, kayaking, or
using paddle boats to travel its 1-1/4 mile
length. Located in downtown Indy, the site is
also popular with workers as a place for a lunchtime
stroll or run. While swimming is not allowed,
the canal is opened several times a year
for the swim leg of a triathlon and
a couple swim competitions.
The swimmer below was participating
in one of those recent events.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

I Love These Guys

I can't walk across the old Washington Street Bridge
without craning my neck to see what may 
be lingering on the driftwood caught on one 
of the bridge's piers. Friday found these turtles basking
in the noontime sun. All heads pointed in the same direction,
these soft-shelled guys shared space with
red-eared turtles. About forty-five minutes later,
I came back to find the sun party had
gotten larger ...

... and even more were trying to find 
their own place in the crowd.

I love these guys and could have watched tham
all day. There don't seem to be "antics"
as such, just a bunch of reptiles enjoying
the seasonal warmth on any handy tree snag,
laboriously climbing up to join the rest
of the river gang, dozing, then maybe falling off
to begin the process over again.
After all, falling off the log is easy,
finding one's place on it is not.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Home Remodeling

Friday, I went to a mid-morning swim practice 
at the Natatorium. Somewhere in the back 
of my pea-brain, I'd expected we'd be using 
the main competition pool. 
After all, it had been used for the 
YMCA Long Course Championships 
just the week before, right?
I was surprised to see the lane lines loosened 
and floating in the pool like a necklace 
of beads, thrown down after a night of hard partying.
What? No men in Speedos?
Instead, workmen with jackhammers were hard 
at work, tearing up the remaining sections of tiled 
deck that hadn't yet been replaced.
We used the instruction pool to the north
that is separated from the competition pool
by a long glass wall. It kept out most of the sound
of the jackhammers - until one put one's
head in the water, where it echoed for the entire
time I was in the water. Overall, though,
it was a quiet place, with just the sound of
Coach Craig's voice as he gave instruction
to the swimmers.

I've missed my home. Last week was like meeting 
an old friend on the street and today's swim
was working towards a reunion, one that I am 
looking forward to this November, after the current 
phase of remodeling is complete.

Friday, August 14, 2015


These girls were fooling around with their i-phones 
Wednesday afternoon, trying their new 
selfie-stick. Of course, mugging for the camera 
was required, but this serves as a reminder 
to check the backgrounds of all your images 
before posting them on-line.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Taking A Break

One day last week, while on my way home from
a volunteer stint at the YMCA National Long Course
Swimming Championships, I looked up from my latte to see
this group of folk, resting on benches outside 
the federal court building.
As it turned out they were Jehovah's Witnesses,
resting from their shift standing on the nearby sidewalks,
looking for converts. They stand quietly looking
for people who may wish to find some
peace in their tortured and/or lost daily existences.
They've been at it for months and months now,
but I've never seen them in conversation
with people other than themselves. 
The woman in the striped hat had a bruised 
and swollen ankle. She had been hit by
a motorscooter, making standing on the hot
sidewalks even more of an ordeal.
While I wasn't able to bring myself to convert,
I was able to give her some hints that might
provide her some relief for her aching feet.
No miracles here,
 just ice, soapy water and a foot brush.