Two to three mornings a week, I go running. This summer, though, in preparation for next year's NYC Marathon, I wanted to take some time off to let my body fully recover from the Brooklyn Half. I've been running 1-2 times a week max, spending more time strength training, and luckily was given an absolutely perfect gift by my neighborhood - a chance to stay in shape and stay cool at the same time, while doing one of my favorite activities on the planet.
The Astoria Park public pool offers lap swim for grown-ups from 7-8:30am and 7pm-dusk - this has apparently been offered for years, but I've had my head under a rock and didn't realize it. Of all the summers to discover it, how awesome that I'm getting back in to lap swimming during the Olympics! I competed on swim teams for a good 5 or 6 years as a kid and I regret quitting when I did. Swimming just for fun has always been one of my absolute favorite things to do - my mom has said that I could swim before I could walk (I don't know if that's true, but it sounds awesome). If I could have any superpower, it would definitely be the ability to breathe underwater so I could basically live like a mermaid. If I'm at the beach, I'm going in the water - temperature be damned.
Incredibly, we're approaching mid-August, which means we are approaching fall. I think in the hot humid misery of our current state, most of us are forgetting the joys of summer and are ready for cooler weather - and after the Olympics, I know at least I will be seriously ready for football season.
But even though now is the time to start preparing and laying the groundwork for "back to school" season, which in my line of work means back to a much fuller working and teaching schedule, now is also the time to revel in summer, even when it's as miserably hot as it is today and has been this week.
I've been replacing running with swimming every chance I've gotten, and one of the many things I love about swimming is that, unless you're shelling out the money for waterproof headphones, you can only listen to yourself and to your breath. I don't run without headphones quite as often as I probably should, and most yoga classes I attend play music. Swimming is a chance to move, meditate, and focus on the breath all at the same time. It's a chance to feel cool and weightless and graceful.
It's also humbling. Breast stroke comes very naturally to me, so as a result I hadn't attempted to swim freestyle in a very long time. Probably years. I assumed that because I'm a strong swimmer in the sense that I'm comfortable being knocked around by waves in the ocean, that I'd glide right back into freestyle. That was definitely not the case. It's an advanced stroke and it was good for me to get my butt kicked trying to rediscover it. It took a few visits before I was able to make an entire lap of freestyle start to finish, but I'm finally back there.
Getting the chance to have that time to myself before teaching, especially for teaching my beloved and often totally insane Friday morning classes at The Giving Tree, has been wonderful. It's always good, mentally and physically, to switch things up every so often, and I'm so grateful to the NYC Parks department for this free opportunity!
There are more community pools around the area if you aren't an Astorian - this website gives you locations. Summer isn't over yet - get inspired and get swimming!