Plunging into my new fad |

Plunging into my new fad

Janet Urquhart
Aspen, CO Colorado

So it wasn’t until after I took the plunge and bought a pool pass ” a purchase inspired by my latest, invariably short-lived resolve to exercise ” that I found out swimmers tend to gain weight.

One of those expert-sounding medical journals has confirmed swimmers actually put on pounds, unlike couch potatoes who take up running or bicycling. It has something to do with a water-cooled metabolism or eating ravenously after trying not to drown, or something. I’m betting it’s a result of all the water one inadvertently swallows. All I know is, now I have two black eyes and I smell faintly of rotten eggs, apparently for nothing.

With an underutilized ski pass and a gym membership already burning holes in my bank account, I figured a pass to the Hot Springs Pool in Glenwood would be just the ticket to complete the trifecta of good intentions. Or, maybe I’m just longing for a sulfuric taste of the tropics in a place where I look positively svelte, albeit prunish, in the company of women who do far more to test the limits of spandex and nylon than I ever have.

Maybe they’re just suffering the effects of a lifetime of swimming-fueled weight gain, but I don’t think so. Swimming, I’ve discovered, is actually something of an anomaly in Glenwood’s giant, coffin-shaped wading pool. The only time I see people move like they mean it is when they dash, dripping wet, across the deck in the frigid air, while a parka-clad lifeguard barks, “No running!”

Lap swimmers are accommodated with four, roped-off lanes on the deep end, but I’m too intimidated to get into one of them. The lap swimmers slice through the water like torpedoes; I make headway with all the sleek efficiency of a water-logged box of tissues bobbing up and down among the general pool populace.

I bought myself a pair of swim goggles so I can actually see who I’m about to grope with my breaststroke unless I veer left or right, but they create a vacuum seal around my eyes that leaves me looking like I just walked off the set of a horror movie when I peel them away. The effect lasts about 12 hours.

I bought them because I can’t swim in a straight line. I need to see well enough to follow something, if only a crack in the concrete on the bottom, to take me to the other side. The lap lanes have nice, painted lines to guide swimmers, but since I’m too timid join the Speedo set, the goggles also help me avoid the appendages of pasty flesh that suddenly appear in the gloom, looming through the detritus of washed-off bandages, gum wrappers and suspended bits of … I don’t know what ” and I try not to think about it.

I can actually see more under the water than I can on the surface, where a dense fog rises off the warm water on cold, winter days.

Swimming back and forth somewhere just outside the lap lanes, dodging canoodling couples and dog-paddling waifs, I concluded my legs were holding me back. My feeble kicks were propelling me nowhere, so I bought a pair of those little swim fins to get more kick from my kick. They actually work for the crawl. Unfortunately, that’s the most tiring stroke, even with the fins, and I tend to use it sparingly.

The fins aren’t all that comfortable for the breaststroke or my true forte, the lowly sidestroke, which isn’t even considered swimming in the competitive world. Don’t ask me why. It’s easy and actually carries me to the other side of the pool without swallowing enough of the sulfurous water to ensure unpleasant gas later.

Forced to rely on my fin-boosted crawl, I can finish my usual mile in half the time. And, I’m famished. I think I’m bulking up already.