The Saratoga Sun -

Swimming into 2020

 

January 1, 2020



2020 is starting.

Where did 2019 go?

More importantly, how many of last year’s resolutions did I make good? I think I was okay about most.

To be honest, resolutions are really goals. So, I don’t bum out, if over the year, I didn’t quite live up to what I wanted to accomplish. Usually, I find them easy enough to put on the upcoming year.

At least that is what I tell myself and actually look forward to the new year to align my priorities.

For instance, my swimming. I had planned to start my swimming regimen that, for decades, I had adhered to. Then a couple years back, I moved to Maryland for work and fell out of my swimming schedule.

I did find a gym near where I was residing that had me pumping iron and hitting aerobic bikes, but I knew my workout was not coming close to what swimming laps had done for me over the years.

There is no substitute for swimming in my book.

Swimming pools were a fixture in my childhood either through my folks having one in the backyard or the community one for residents. It wasn’t until college, where I started playing water polo and taking classes in swimming technique, did I notice how improved my body became from this exercise.

Sure, I worked out in a gym but the mirror left no doubt the body I had was made by swimming laps and switching up the strokes.

Not only did it do my body good, it also helped me sort out the world. As I did my laps, I would open up my mind and think. Job, friends, relationships with family… just about anything.

The same thing happens when I run but, honestly, over the years I have found running is a bit hard on the knees in a way swimming is not. Plus living in Shanghai, Beijing and Wyoming have made running every day tough.

Not so with swimming.

I live close to one of the best recreation centers I have ever encountered anywhere. It would not be a lie to say its proximity to my home is one of the reasons I bought a house in Hanna.

You might be laughing but it is true. It is an awesome facility and I have checked out quite a few all over the world.

My D.C./Maryland years (university and after) had me living close enough to the University of Maryland’s Cole Field House where I swam laps several times a week. I learned to go off peak hours and it sort of became my standard for pools.

Big Pools

Cole spoiled me because now I like my pools big.

When I left the east coast and moved to Hawaii, I kept my swimming laps up at the YMCA in Honolulu. That place could get crowded.

I would find myself sharing a lane with as many as three other people during peak hours. The pool had ten lanes and, when I would get ready to swim in a lane being used, I would see how fast they were going. This is very key when getting in a lane. If you go too fast there is passing and if you are too slow, you feel stupid for being the guy that has to be passed.

Hawaii and Australia were the two places where I had to be careful in what lanes I swam. There are some serious athletes training for events and you don’t want to be the person slowing them down because you got in the wrong lane.

I loved the YMCA in Honolulu. It helped me get in shape for dealing with the surf and it is a place your shirt stays off a lot. The same thing was true in Australia.

Another benefit of my lap swimming in pools in both these beach paradises was how strong I became in the ocean. Nothing wrong with that.

Pools In Asia Took

Time To Find

Asia was a bit of a disappointment when I first got there far as keeping fit.

When I first got to Taiwan, I found a gym in a basement that was okay as far as weights and punching bags went, but no pool existed. This gym was out of Rocky, so eventually I ended up in gyms that were equal to any USA counterpart, but pools were elusive. The few indoor pools I found were too crowded. Almost every Asian swimmer does the froggie crawl, meaning if you got into a lane you were going to be spending time passing almost everyone over and over. It was annoying to the point I didn’t want to swim any more. Plus they made everyone wear a bathing cap.

Are you kidding me?

Taichung, Taiwan, the city where I lived, had once been an R and R place for soldiers getting away from the Vietnam war. The weather is like Los Angeles or San Diego, so most of the year it is pleasant. While the U.S, military was there, they built some great outdoor pools for competitions and events.

These pools had stadium seating for a person to grab rays and go swimming. For whatever reason, the Taiwanese did not like swimming in them very much. In fact, during August, which is ghost month, hardly any locals swam in them because it was believed a ghost could grab you while swimming. It was great for me and other Westerners. The operators were lax about the bathing cap rule too, but to this day I have a couple bathing caps in with swim suits.

We not only had the pool to ourselves often but when I owned my restaurant, we threw pool parties. Finlandia Vodka sponsored one of those parties with a bar carved out of a huge block of ice. Alcohol and food were in abundance at these shindigs. Nobody ever got hurt, I might add. Except for a few events in New Orleans, I have not seen any pool parties where liquor companies can sponsor a party. I know it is because of insurance.

Ah, well.

So swimming was back in my life in Asia and, once I moved to Hanna, it was in Wyoming, too.

For those who do not know the pool at the Hanna Recreation Center, it is amazing considering it is in a town of less than a 1,000 people. It was built during the boom and it is a great facility without the pool, but the pool is there and fantastic.

For many years, while I bounced around the world and came back to Carbon County, the Hanna pool helped keep me fit.

Shanghai and Beijing had gyms but their pools were crowded and small, plus the bathing cap was strictly enforced. I remember only one pool in Beijing I liked that was in my buddy’s complex. I swam there as often as I could.

I might have been hitting gyms in China but swimming fell off.

I found the only time I swam was when I was back in Hanna.

So, when I came back from China for good a few years back, I swam the first year or two. Then, going east, I lost my rhythm and I have not really gotten back into it.

So one of my last year’s resolution went unfulfilled for the most part, although there were a few stabs last year when I went swimming.

That is why I am really happy 2020 is coming. It gives me a chance to jumpstart what I know I should be doing to make myself healthier.

And, honestly, I think that is what the New Year resolutions are for; whether it is swimming, running, cutting back on indulgences or just being good to yourself.

Hello 2020 and I hope to be enjoying it swimmingly.

 

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