Sunrise Swim – Pandemic Style

Dorothy Bengston Aquatic Center 50-meter Pool – Pleasanton, California

It was the beginning of September when I learned the town pools were opening back up since closing down with the rest of the nation on March 16, 2020. Since the COVID pandemic began, I started practicing more yoga and added walking and biking to bolster my physical and mental health. Then I read a novel about an 87-year-old woman who swam daily and I was inspired to get in the water. I’d always loved the water as a kid and as an adult, I was certified in scuba and water aerobics instruction, but getting back in the pool was a gift.

With so many people vying for as many spots in the pools, getting a reservation on-line proved to be difficult but somehow I succeeded. And since I knew 9/11 would be a somber day, I was thankful for a slot that Friday evening. But alas 2020 happened! Northern Californians woke up to an eerie sight the previous Wednesday. With the looks of the sky, we weren’t sure if it was night or day and this being 2020, thought the apocalypse might truly be happening. The fires ablaze all around the state had turned the ashy smoke-filled sky into a dark and orangey hue, giving the atmosphere a creepy vibe. We’d already had a number of spare-the-air days and this was just the icing on the 2020 cake; the impetus to reclose more of our coveted retreats. And so, the town pool was shut once again and my Friday evening swim canceled. I got back online a few days later however and somehow managed to find a spot the following Thursday morning for 7 am.

So I donned my swimsuit and mask and drove over to the pool. I should have known I wouldn’t be able to walk directly up to the check-in window even though no-one else was there. I had to walk a good 16 feet down a cordoned off crowd-control stanchion line and back up again to reach the window—open but barriered up with plexiglass just enough so the attendant could access my head with a thermometer. After she took my temperature she brought out her health screener and asked me all the standard COVID questions: Had I been in contact with anyone who had COVID in the last 2 weeks? Was I experiencing any of the following symptoms: cough, fever, chills, stomach upset? After she was satisfied I was COVID-free, I was given my lane—#5 in the 25-meter pool, which was nice and warm, and #11 in the 50-meter pool, which was a bit chilly today.

I was extremely grateful to get a lane at 7:30 am today since when I logged in to the town website Friday morning, I saw all the spots filling up right before my eyes. But once I got there, got into the water and started doing the backstroke, I looked up into the beautiful smoke-free blue sky and thought about how fortunate I was. First of all, it’s the fall and I’m in the pool outside—so unusual for this east coast transplant. Mostly though, I was ecstatic that my arms were even moving with so much ease, and I could complete each and every stroke. It was back in 2009 that my left shoulder froze up and took eight months of painful therapies before thawing. And then, in 2013 when my right shoulder stopped moving, I was anxious about undergoing the long agonizing therapies. And so I opted for a chiropractic adjustment instead and experienced the most excruciating manipulation ever. But it was just one. And then, after undergoing a structural integration series and regular therapeutic massages, my shoulders finally began to heal. So here it is 2020, and I am ever so thankful to be back in the pool, even if it is pandemic style.

About Lynne

I am a wife, mother of two and a memoirist. I recently received an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Albertus Magnus College. I am a suicide prevention crisis counselor and volunteer coordinator for a non-profit with a mission to ending domestic violence. Pleasantly Settled was created to blog musings and observations from Pleasanton, California after I moved here with my family from Connecticut in 2012.
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