Tuesday, September 02, 2008


Well, it's been a quiet week in Spring, Texas, my home, out on the edge of the Megalopolis. Summer has come to an end. Odd to think of it, because it will be in the 80s and 90s for many weeks yet here on the edge of the Gulf of Mexico. And, as a consequence, we probably have not spent our last weekend watching the "cone of death" on the weather channel and wondering whether the Megalopolis will get up close and personal with named storms like, "Gustav" or "Hannah" or "Igor." Sadly, as much fun as we had this summer, summer died while we were watching TV and I was writing a brief.

Strange how things run down when you're not paying attention, how life gets on "while you're making other plans." For example, I took the picture up top probably 18 months ago, in the depths of winter, at the outdoor pool where I like to swim. The pool is a beautiful, 50 meter, saline pool where all the women are masters, all the men swim in the fast lane, and all the kids are on swim team. It's the best I have ever swum in, and I could use it any time I wanted because I have a full membership to the aquatic center.

But this picture has a certain loneliness to it, the few persons standing there on the side, bundled against the cold. Unseen in the picture are the swimmer kids tearing back and forth, made invisible by the long shutter speed that was necessary to get the shot in the dark. Ghost swimmers, they are. This morning I was swimming with ghosts again.

News has come out that the aquatic center is closing at the end of the year. It's too expensive to run, and the local school system has built its own facility. The highest and best use of the land is not to provide solitary lane space and aquatic meditation for middle aged triathletes. So, this morning, I was the only swimmer, in the darkness, occupying the far lane in an Olympic size pool. The surface of the water and the flags over the pool rippled with the outlying winds of Hurricane Gustav, and maybe with the memory of all swimmer kids and the millions of meters of swimming that they have swum there.

The diving well over there was the haunt of an Olympic gold medalist. Champions beyond number have swum in the pool. But now it is on life support, and I am the only one left. I've heard it said, "if these walls could talk." Where do the achievements go when they knock down the walls and the school records are removed? And what of us who have no written records, those who just go from being unable to swim to being unable to quit swimming.

I suppose it is carried in our muscle memory, maybe our DNA or blood. Maybe we carry it and infect those who come in contact with us, infect them with something good. Maybe we can create antibodies to laziness and average and 9 to 5. Maybe.

I hope so.


Wendy said...

It is always sad when a wonderful aquatics venue closes its doors.

I'm glad you were able to really appreciate it before that happens.

Flatman said...


Flatman said...


stronger said...


21stCenturyMom said...

It's very sad that they are shutting down this aquatic center. Are there alternative places to swim for all swimmers? Swimming is such a hugely popular sport and to see nice swim centers shut down just breaks my heart.

Fe-lady said...

Maybe some rich Texas triathlete or swimmer will buy it up and keep it going....?

Just a thought.

wah...I hate it when pools close. Especially one that has so many using it.

Great photo by the way...

CoachLiz said...

Lets hope that Laura Wilkerson can raise the money to help build a new state-of-the-art diving well and swimming facility to replace the WAC.