Wednesday March 12, 2014; 05:46 am EDT
The Wonders of Water
Wonders happen in water.
Capture water in a pool, and creatures can’t resist it.
We gather in the liquid, and make magic.
Here’s what I mean.
Consider that the narrator and title character in the novel Life of Pi, named Piscine for swimming pool in French, devotes pages to second-hand elegies to the early 20th century swimming pools of Paris — despite sanitation far beneath the standards of modern pools.
Consider that the Druid Hill and Patterson Park swimming pools of Baltimore have inspired the Fluid Movement performance troupe to nine years of water ballet. This year’s Ninth Annual Synchronized Swimming Extravaganza! — alas, just ended — was titled Jason and The Aquanauts: 20,000 Legs Over The Sea.
Consider the daily and nightly magic happening at Calvert County’s new Edward T. Hall Aquatic Center. It draws people the way vernal pools draw amphibians.
Open for its first season, the new indoor center lures swimmers with four pools. Water in each is a different temperature, ranging from 82 degrees in the big 50-meter-long competition pool to over 100 degrees in the nine-person hot tub.
Built with state Project Open Space funds, this pool welcomes all Marylanders and at the same low prices. And all sorts of people are just what you see at most any time during the pool’s long daily hours (6am to 10pm weekdays, and 8am to 10pm weekends).
In the leisure pool, mothers are catching toddlers who laugh in terror and delight as they bump down waterslides. Bigger kids lounge on the sea monster, and shrieking kids play Touch Me Not with the streams overflowing from jostling, airborne buckets of water.
In the therapy pool, people with sore bones and muscles, some of them borne up by life vests, come to the water for healing. They’re mostly approaching midlife or old age, but not entirely. Kids warm up here and young athletes unstiffen.
In the big pool, kids swim, splash and play ball. At the opposite ends, men and younger folk of both sexes jump and leap and belly-flop from three diving boards: half a meter, one meter and three meters.
In the lanes, swimmers graceful as porpoises glide side by side lane walkers and lane strugglers.
And in the double-wide lanes are people like me, determined to master a new form of movement. We are diverse, the students in my Monday and Wednesday evening class: women from the 20s to the 60s, white, Asian and black, plus a couple of athletically built young black men. Our instructors are mostly lithe girl fish, plus one man, who reminds us of ourselves as better swimmers.
All around the perimeter, shapely young women and men look on, faces carefully expressionless, guarding lives.
“Don’t you love getting to boss pre-adolescent boys?” I ask a blond beauty.
“It gets old,” she says, breaking a smile.
All this is not even to mention what happens when all Calvert school swim programs take to the water.
Just as we’re said to change personalities with each language we speak, we change our nature when we enter a new element. In the water, humans become amphibious. Try for yourself; you can feel the magic.
As for me, I’m getting ready for next summer’s 10th Annual Synchronized Swimming Extravaganza!
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