The Great Thing I Learned About Relationships Swimming Laps

The Great Thing I Learned About Relationships Swimming Laps

We live just down the street from the community pool, and last summer I learned a great lesson about relationships when I decided to use it for swimming laps.

The Great Thing I Learned About Relationships Swimming Laps

I’m not a big fitness person and have never been really into exercise. But as we’re growing older, we’ve recognized the need to move a bit more for lots of health reasons.

Since I love being in the water I thought I’d try swimming some laps. But I didn’t want anyone to see me, so I started going early in the morning when the pool was usually empty.

I quickly found a routine. I would dive in and swim back and forth down the length of the pool for about fifteen minutes. Then I’d lay on a pool chair and work on my tan for fifteen minutes. Followed by another fifteen minutes of laps. And, finally, fifteen more minutes on the chair to tan and dry off before heading home to my shower.

I felt like I was doing pretty well, but it was hard for me to breathe while I was swimming. I would start to feel a little panicky — like I was suffocating between breaths. It wasn’t as bad if I kept my eyes open underwater, so I ordered some swim goggles. I started wearing them (much to my husband’s amusement). They helped a little, but I was still struggling with getting my breathing right.

orange swimming goggles on dark orange background
© Karin Hildebrand Lau |

Another reason I was swimming laps early in the morning is that last year we had an invasion of college students using our pool.

We live less than two miles from Stetson University. Apparently word got out that you could get into the pool here without a key or passcode. For a while, we would see cars and pickups pull up and watch as coolers, floats, folding tables (for beer pong), and crowds of kids were unloaded.

Many of the neighbors were getting angry about the situation, including Bob and myself. All day, almost every day, loud music could be heard reverberating down the street. It got to the point where the pool was so crowded with partygoers, no one in the neighborhood was using it. But my swimming routine wasn’t usually affected because college kids typically aren’t up at eight in the morning.

It was with some trepidation, then, that I headed to the pool a couple hours later than usual one day. It was getting close to party time, so I had debated whether to skip my laps or go anyway. I think I went more with the attitude that I wasn’t going to let them chase me away than out of my devotion to my daily exercise.

That morning, my attitude about those disruptive college students changed…

Shortly after my first set of laps, while I was resting, the first students arrived. A group of young women took over the chairs near me and loudly settled in. I tried to ignore them, but then a trio of young men came through the gate. They started yelling back and forth across the pool to the girls. And they didn’t hold back on the language just because I was nearby.

I decided to quickly finish my laps and leave. While I was locating my goggles, the three guys dived into the water and started swimming toward me. I stood and watched, impressed by how smoothly they took their strokes, periodically turning their heads to breathe. I wondered if they had any tips they could share that might help me with my issue.

four people in goggles and swim caps talking as they hang on the edge of a swimming pool

Donning my goggles, I jumped in and swam back and forth a few times. I finished the third lap at the far end of the pool. The guys were nearby, hanging onto the edge and chatting. I screwed up my courage and asked if they were on the swim team. Turns out, two of them had been through lifeguard training, and the other was a swimmer while in high school. I told them my story and asked if they had any advice for me about my breathing.

What followed amazed me. All three of them took a real interest in my problem. They asked me lots of questions, had me demonstrate how I was breathing, and gave me some really helpful advice. At one point, I was telling them how my husband thought I looked goofy in my googles. They assured me I looked “fly” in them. It turned out to be a delightful encounter!

So here is the great thing I learned about relationships while swimming laps:

When I put aside my preconceived notions and generalizations about people and look for a place to connect, it changes everything about my relationship with them. And I believe there is always a connection with anyone and everyone–if I really want to find it.

That day at the pool with those college students reminded me something important: Looking for the connections and enjoying those happy interactions with people makes life a wonderful thing.

Have you had an encounter that surprised you?

Has someone you met ever turned out to be way different than you expected? We’d love to hear your story in the comments!

And just for fun, click here for more inspiring stories about swimming laps and relationships.

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