You missed it only moments ago. There she was – a (@GC2018) Commonwealth games swimmer – distinctly out of her natural habitat and in camouflage going about a task you or I could accomplish. This is the daily reality for her after romancing the bottom of the pool – only the drum of her heart and repetitive internal dialogue to “slice-faster” as company. I imagine the world would look strange from this angle. Always on your tummy floating like a glass bottom boat – having to always hold your breath, always hypoxic. The glimpses you steal would be vertical slits of a horizontal world. Coach pacing alongside the pool, the whisper of your bow wave, and your eyes ever-so-slightly bulging into the cups of your goggles – like that of a dory. Does she dream in aquatics? To porpoise like dolphins in a speedy pack between atolls?
Or twirl through the kelp forests with seals? Perhaps a sea otter discovering glittering treasure on a rocky sea floor? At least that’s what I would dream of while pacing the blue bottom – my brain would liquefy wanting to breath on demand, losing count of laps, butchering my strokes crippled with lactic acid. For this, I have a profound respect for the mental fortitude of swimmers, ones like her – and also ones that never made it upstream. It is the loneliest of sports. Surrounded by your own little watery womb. Day in, day out. Eat, sleep, train. Rinse and repeat. Break your personal bests. Best them again. Mince the water until your lungs combust. Dream in liquid, dream of treasure, dream of medals. Hear the anthem and feel the podium’s step. Swim little fish – shatter the water behind you.