Senior Sneak Day

Wednesday is one of my ‘swimming days’. My recreation center has added a number of hours to the lap swimming pool, which has made my ability to schedule swim time easy-peezy. I am finding that going there a bit after 1pm almost always assures me of my favorite ‘extra wide lane’, where I can finish with 12 laps of back stroke—these things are important in the land of geezers. This Wednesday started with me getting my special lane.

Lap swimming with fins and a lap snorkel is sort of like running on a treadmill. Once you begin to trust swimming face down, what looks like work takes on more of a meditative bent. This day I was in the groove and my back stroke reward carried me to lap 40. As I was finishing up, I saw a woman come in to find a lane. Over the past hour the lanes had filled up. I waved at her from the end of the pool to signal I was leaving. She tried to talk to me but I could not understand her. I was bagging up my gear and she got to my lane. I then realized she was paralyzed on one side of her body.

She smiled at me and explained that she had had a stroke. She pushed off and I saw something that amazed me. She swam with one arm and one leg with a speed and strength of an Olympian. I spoke to the two guys getting ready in the lane next to me. “Did you guys see that”? “Yes we have seen her before, she is amazing.” After she had finished her fourth lap right in front of me, I flagged her down to have a word with her. “You are my hero” I said. She smiled and said “Why”? “It’s wonsweful to watch you swim”. She replied “Well, I had a stroke when I was 27. I woke up and this whole side would not work. What was I going to do but keep going”? I thanked her again for both her smile and her tenacity.

As I was gathering my gear to head to the hot tub (my reward for hitting my goal) a whole gaggle of teenagers came into the lap swimming area. There were five girls and four boys. The girls split off and went to the big hot tub and the boys all piled in the lap swimming lane—a major pool rules violation. By this time I was on my way to the hot tub and before I even got it the stairs the girls bailed out as fast as they could, giggling the whole way.

The jets on the hot tub provide a beautiful lower back massage. I was watching the four young men at one end of the lane trying to act like they were lap swimming. The life guard went over to talk with them and the one-armed swimmer evidently said that they were not bothering her. One other woman joined me in the hot tub. She shared that she is the mom of five and that on Wednesday afternoons she has a baby sitter come so she can swim laps. The next thing I knew all nine teens piled in the hot tub. So much for serenity.

I asked the kids, “So what are you all doing here on a Wednesday afternoon”? They laughed and told me they were on Senior Sneak Day. The girls said that they had a barbecue and then the guys chimed in with ‘we went to this river’. “Was it cold”? I asked ( a very dumb question). “Yes it was, so we came here. They let us come in although not much is running. None of the water slides are running so this is it”. We began a most interesting interchange.

One of the boys asked me, “What advice would you give us”? This was a moment not lost on me. The first thing I said was “Give your life to things worthy of your life. Don’t waste your life being stupid. Tell the truth, be kind, take care of your friendships.”

Then the pastor in me kicked in. “See that lady swimming over there”? “Yes, she swims with one arm”. “She has been doing that for a long time. She had a stroke when she was 27. She did not let that stop her”. A collective “WOW”!!! “There you have it kids. Remember her, make your life count no matter what”.

Just another Wednesday at the APEX Recreation Center… NOT!!!

Onward and Upward,


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