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
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.