As a kid, I used to despise the lap swimming adults. How pointless and boring to go back and forth and back and forth. No splashes and jumps, no breath-holding contests and underwater races. In the end, there was no escaping it. To stay in the pool, I had to adapt. So now I swim laps, but I pretend I'm a crocodile. I rest my chin on the kickboard, with my eyes just above the water. The board protrudes like a snout, and I kick with reptilian smoothness, slow and steady, observing and thinking. Are the other people just counting laps and watching the clock? Or, like me, are they playing a game? Half the fun of swimming is pretending. In the water, I'm never just myself - I am a long-distance champion, a mermaid or whale or castaway or otter.
So I wonder about the other swimmers. They look staid and orderly, but maybe inside they are sharks and dolphins, Esther Williams or Gertrude Ederle. Or maybe not, and I'm the only crocodile.