fitness · swimming

On Doing What Makes Us Feel Like Kids Again

three children under water swimming, smiling.

The other morning at the end of a 6 a.m. training session in the pool, the coach told us to swim down to the flags about 3/4 of the way to the other side of the 25m pool.  The point: to do group sprints from there back to the end of the pool, about 20m.

When the four of us in my lane got to the flags, we treaded water waiting for her countdown.  Three, two, one…GO.  When you’re used to pushing off from the pool wall, starting up from treading water feels odd. The first few strokes almost don’t take at all.

But you know what I learned as I powered out of the deep end and made my way to the end of the pool as fast as I could, lane-mates doing the same alongside me? I’m not bad at it.  I gained momentum after a couple of strokes and sprinted the 20m or so to the wall.

I could feel that I’d pushed ahead of the others and when I touched the wall and looked up, I had a big smile on my face. The first thing out of my mouth was, “Let’s do that again.”

And we did. Three more times. Each time we positioned ourselves differently in the group, on each side of the lane or  to the middle, doing what we could to emulate race day. You don’t know exactly where in the pack you will be, even if you try to find a clear path with no one around you. It usually doesn’t work that way.

Three more times, “Three, two, one.., GO!” And three more times I felt like a kid all over again. It took me back to the days when I used to dive over and over and over off the board of our backyard swimming pool. I hollered, “Watch!” and then waited until I knew I had the attention of my mother or my father or my grandfather or, preferably, all three, as they lounged on the cedar deck beyond the shallow end.

Or the days when we raced, my brothers and I, from one end of the pool to the other, diving our shallowest racing dive and swimming our fastest freestyle. Or when we held our breath and swam 40 feet under water,  from the shallow end to the deep end. Or more. And when we came up for air, we were always smiling.

That’s how those sprints felt last week even though there was no one to call out to to “watch!”

Sam and I promote the idea that we should do what we love. If it’s not fun, then what’s the point? Even more than that, finding those things that take us back to the freedom of childhood is a precious gift.  You can sense it whenever Sam talks about riding the bike. So often she includes a little “whee!” in those posts.

With all the burdens of the grown-up world, I find it easy to feel weighed down. And for me, swimming releases me of that. When I’m in the pool, I don’t think of anything else. And when I’m sprinting with others…wow!

Not all of our activities can be like that. I love running, and I do experience a kind of freedom when I run. It helps me shed or at least park my worries for a period of time. But it doesn’t take me back to that more innocent time. Not like the pool does.

Looking for a photo for this post, I search “children swimming.” In just about every single of the hundreds of images my search yielded the kids were smiling ear to ear. Yep. That was me.

What takes you back to that childhood sense of freedom? Think about it. Then, if you’re not already doing it, make a plan!

Here’s Sam’s answer.

11 thoughts on “On Doing What Makes Us Feel Like Kids Again

  1. Yes! If it’s fun it’s not exercise. I rediscovered soccer at 38 and rediscovered having fun. Soccer is hard on the body, but it is much harder to give up. I played 4 games last weekend and am hobbling around, with 2 sore feet and a very sore knee, but I’m not ready to give it up yet (at 50). Love the blog! Cindy

  2. This post is perfectly synchronistic, as I was listening to a podcast the other day that addressed the idea of finding your passion(s), and the host suggested simply thinking about what 10 year old you loved to do. I think it’s interesting how insightful this observation can be, but also how we get away from the things that we truly find joy in, the things that are second nature to us as kids. Though, 10 year old me was trying to conquer some mean tricks on the monkey bars, and I’m not really sure that’d be such a great idea today 🙂

    1. What a great idea–thinking about what I loved to do as a kid (not necessarily a 10 year-old but still) is what got me back in the pool a few years ago. It also got me knitting again.

  3. Reblogged this on FIT IS A FEMINIST ISSUE and commented:

    Yesterday Sam wrote a serious post about how most of her exercise these days is not fun. And she’s doing it anyway. I felt profound relief when she got to the part where she said she can still ride a bicycle (the thing that most makes her go “wheeee!”) and lift weights.

    It made me reflect a bit on my own activities and how my definition of “fun” has changed from “fun” to “challenging with a bit of fun thrown in.” In honor of spring, I thought I’d repost something from my swimming days about doing these that make us feel like kids again. Lately for me that hasn’t been swimming (not fitting into my plans these days), but rather colouring books (the ones for adults) and photography (SO much fun). But even those don’t quite reach the fun level of the little swim sprint races I describe in this post.

    Have you had any kid-like fun lately?

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