When I was a kid, I was a swimmer. I was on the JCC team and we’d swim miles a week. It was hard, I remember, but I loved it. Sure, I occasionally vomited from swallowing too much water and sure, I hardly ever won a race. Still, I loved it.
I loved the quiet of it. I loved how the thoughts in my head were all mine and that I could think – really think – without the outside world or any other thoughts or sounds peeping in. Being underwater was this peaceful place that I owned.
When I was around 10 or 11, my family built a pool in our backyard. We’d swim all day long when it was warm enough, though no one had the stamina of my sister who would do laps until someone made her stop for dinner or bedtime.
So speaking of quiet and being underwater, my dad bought this diving helmet. It was just like the one pictured here. I looked it up:
This helmet was produced in the USA in the 1970’s. In those days it was sold for $49. It was used together with a 12 Volt or 110 Volt air compressor.People used it for fun in their pools or to inspect their boats. It is in fact a modern shallow water helmet that needed extra weights.
We would take turns putting on the heavy helmet and walking into the deep end and hanging out there. My father did it best; he’d take a folding chair with him and set it up the deep and and sit in the quiet. The only sound was the air coming in through the tube at the top.
We were talking about this the other day and he told my boys about the time that my brother wanted to get his attention and pulled on the cord – ala Jacques Cousteau – and disconnected the air cord. It’s funny to laugh about today, but imagine sitting there minding your own business at the bottom of the pool when the water starts to pour in. Scary! And that thing was heavy. (Obviously, my dad was okay and he laughs like crazy when he recounts the story.)
Next week, I start a swim class. It’s been 25 years or more since I really swam. (I used to swim laps back in my advertising agency days before work.) So this class is a stroke improvement and endurance class and I figure, I have no place to go but up. Thinking of the days when I could swim miles without even blinking, I wonder if I can make 10 laps without major effort. But we’ll see.
I am looking forward to the quiet.