The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Swimming Backwards

Placeholder while article actions load

Swimming is hard enough to begin with. What is going ON??

I swim nearly every day for exercise, and for a while it seemed the ideal exercise. It feels good to be in water. I’m a decent swimmer. You don’t sweat. So why does it all of a sudden feel like I’m drowning all the time?

There is the rubber hat thing, of course. People wear them, so I do too. I presume the pool water does something bad to your hair, and mine looks haystacky enough as it is, so I wear one too. I used to have a cool black one but that ripped and now I’m stuck with a silver one, for that literal chrome dome look. But it seems smaller, even though people tell me they are all the same size. It contracts on my head as I swim until it looks like a silver knob on a hair antenna by the time I get out.

And the earplugs! Why are they LEAKING all of a sudden? Probably I’m not using the Right Kind, but I’m using the Same Kind I always have, but suddenly they are ballooning up, saturated with water and squooging their way out of my ears and letting water in. When I try to push them back in, it just redistributes the water in my ear farther inside my head into the brain areas that control anger and arm thrashing.

And the goggles! What’s with THEM? They didn’t USED TO LEAK! Now they do all the time! I tighten the strap until my head is shaped like a peanut with one silver end, and STILL they leak. They fill with enough water to make little aquariums around my eyeballs where I could put minnows to stare at. And I might as well stare at minnows, because I can’t see anything else anyway, because my new goggles, even when they aren’t leaking get fogged up to the point I can’t see the walls, as I plow into them and all the other swimmers who are in the lane with me. I have changed from a sleek power eel into a floundering menace.

I try to share my travails with some random guy in the locker room, but he has no comparable problems, he tells me as he stands there STARK NAKED. I put my goggles back on.