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Dear Journal,

I went swimming this morning. When I was walking from my car to the gym, I was a little flustered and annoyed because of how late I was. I woke up at 6am sharp for my 7am pool reservation, but I struggled to get out the door because I needed to finish packing for my activities afterward. It was already 7:03am, and I still needed to undress and put my stuff in my locker before hopping into the pool.

I wanted to walk fast, but I had to be careful because the sidewalk was wet from last night's rain. When I was about halfway down the walkway, I saw something on the ground through my peripheral vision. I made sure to not step on it in case it was a living thing. I didn't want to kill it or get my shoes dirty.

I recognized it as a snail, but I didn't think much of it. After a few paces, I realized how significant it was, and I went back to take a few photos. I rarely see snails, and I rarely have an opportunity to take a photo of them on a wet sidewalk in the early morning. It didn't matter that I was already late for my pool. I was having a moment, and it could wait a little longer.

As I took a few photos of the snail and watched it crawl across the sidewalk, I realized that crossing a sidewalk is a long journey for the snail. It's also quite dangerous, with humans walking across it. It made me think to myself that it doesn't matter how slowly I go as long as I don't give up. As long as I don't stop because I'm too tired or lazy, I can take my time to progress in certain things in life. I can progress at a pace that's right for me.

I felt that this was my lesson for the day, one that God and circumstance had given me. On Friday, I asked God for strength on my morning run, one that gave me a new personal best for my 5K, and today I received some wisdom for my swim. I put my stuff away, rinsed in the cold outdoor shower, and got into the pool. I felt much better in it than I had three weeks ago, which was the last time I swam. Before that, I hadn't swam in over six months.

The pool was warm and the sky was clear with a few puffs of clouds. The sun was peeking through them just over the horizon. It was a beautiful morning, and I was ready. I started with a few laps of freestyle, and it was so easy. I did more warm up laps, going freestyle down and breaststroke back. Each lap was 25 yards, so going down and back was 50 yards. I decided to aim for an arbitrary goal of 2000 yards for today. I had no idea how long it would take or how difficult it would be. I just knew that I wanted to do it.

After about 500 yards, I felt fatigue starting to settle in. I could feel in my mind and my body that 200 yards was not going to be easy. I was mostly doing freestyle down and breaststroke back, but I also did a few laps of backstroke and butterfly. I was worried that I chose a goal that was too difficult. I thought about reducing it, but I remembered the snail. It doesn't matter how slowly I go as long as I don't give up. I sucked up the fatigue and kept going.

At about 1250 yards, a stranger had come to share the lane with me. I was in the small warm pool, which has 6 lanes and is heated to 86°F to 88°F. I liked the small pool because it was warm, and I wanted to go easy on my muscles. Swimming was something that I wanted to start again to help me recover from martial arts and strength training while working my cardio. The small pool is also shallow enough to stand in. I wasn't confident in my swimming abilities, so I could give up on a lap any time by standing up. I figured that I could start here and go to the big pool when I felt more confident. The big pool is an Olympic-sized one, so it's 20 lanes at 7 feet deep and heated to 78°F to 80°F.

I didn't really like sharing a lane in the small pool because I wanted to practice butterfly, and I was afraid I'd hit my lane partner or splash too much water on other people in the pool, many of whom were taking it easy. I was also feeling a bit hot and was worried that I was overheating. Last week, I wanted to go swimming, but I was too scared to get into the big pool because it was cold and deep. At 1250 yards, I figured that I could probably swim well enough to survive in the big pool and mentally prepared myself to switch pools.

At 1350, I tried to get out, but the air was cold, and it made me feel that I wasn't ready. I figured I could get to 1500 and then go. If I had gotten into the big pool and felt that it was too cold and scary, I could at least be proud of my even 1500 yards in the small pool. I would still have done well.

Six more laps later, at 1500, I felt great and strong. I was proud of what I had already endured. I got out, took the cold air as it came, and got into the big pool. It was wide open, so I got my own lane at the end, which had stairs to get in and out.

I felt so clean and refreshed in the colder pool that it made me sprint down and back in freestyle and butterfly. I ran out of breath at the end of the butterfly lap, but I did another two laps of freestyle and breaststroke. I figure those four laps were probably what got me my new personal best of 1:10 for 100 yards.

I was tired but excited. I don't think I've swam in an Olympic pool since I competed in middle school. I didn't fear the pool like I did last week when I was at home trying to decide whether to swim or not. I've been trying to swim every Sunday morning, but last week I forgot to make a reservation for the small pool, and it booked up too fast. I decided I was too tired, and the big pool was too scary, so I just didn't swim. But the cold water felt wonderful. Its cooling effect and my mantra from the snail helped me push through the remaining distance to reached my goal of 2000 yards.

After my swim, I got out, took a shower, and put on my clothes. I looked at my stats from my Garmin watch. It somehow recorded 2025, but I'm sure I swam an even number of laps. I think it got 2025 because on one lap in the small pool, I accidentally flipped and turned before I fully made it to the other side. I was impressed by myself because, a few weeks ago, I could only swim 1275 before I had to call it a day. Today, I did 2025, and I could have done more, but I decided that it was enough. I'm improving, and I feel proud. It doesn't matter how long it takes or how slowly I go as long as I don't give up.

Sunday, 2024/02/18