Fall swimming miscellany

It feels like the off-season, which is not technically true because there's still quite a bit of swimming happening, but swimming definitely doesn't have the carefree, always-keep-a-suit-in-your-bag-in-case quality of summertime. Now swimming occurs in tiny chlorinated windows that require planning and layers and strategies for not letting your hair freeze on the way home. I'm not complaining, swimming is always glorious whether it's sky overhead, or a cement ceiling, sand underfoot or grotty tiles, but it's definitely a different season for Swimming Holes We Have Known.

A collection of recent swimmy things:

1). I read on Twitter that someone dressed their kid up as Penny Oleksiak for Halloween. How amazing is that?! Pure gold. I already made our family costume (that is sadly not swimming related) otherwise *I'd* want to go as Penny!

2). I was chatting this afternoon with my fast lane buddy who I haven't seen since the spring, and after catching up about our best summer swims, he told me about a guy who gets his hair cut  by the same barber, who swims to work. IN TORONTO!!! He gets in Lake Ontario at Mimico and swims downtown. Isn't that something!?! If you know of this fella, put me in touch! I'd so love to chat with him!

3). I missed my swim windows for almost 2 weeks and was starting to feel squirrley, but finally made it for a midweek swim this week only to find out that the schedule had changed in my absence and there was only 10 minutes left. Usually I would be so frustrated, but somehow I was just so thrilled to be able to swim, even for 10 minutes, that I enjoyed every second of it. 

4). After my swim this afternoon, the change room was silent except for a handful of women getting changed. Usually people are chatting but there was something so comforting about the sound of a brush through chlorinated hair, the snap of bathing suit straps, the wrinkle of caps being removed (If you listen carefully, you can hear foreheads sigh in relief...)

5). My toddler and I have made it to two swim classes so far -- that's 200% more swim class than last term. And with the additional crowd sourced tips, Class 2 was even better than Class 1. (Also, can every parent/caregiver who gets their kid to even one swimming lesson a term get a badge and/or bottle of wine?!)

Happy swimming, even if it is for 10 minutes...
  • Lindsay
  • Saturday, October 29, 2016

Kiddo swimming lessons, Round 2

[Edited Oct. 17th: Now with crowd-sourced additions!]

When my kid was six months old, I signed us up for swimming lessons. I felt like such a PARENT! But the reality of a wet, cold, wriggly not-yet-sitting-up baby with a limited (VERY limited!) bench space and a stroller-less changeroom complicated my idyllic views of myself as the super swimming parent. But we managed to make it to most classes, even if it was the biggest ordeal of the week. Sadly, he didn't get an official badge (though I made him one to commemorate his ingenious inchworm kick!)

We signed up again in the winter, and were shocked that even though we forgot to register at exactly 7am, we still managed to secure our first choice class time. Turns out no one signs up for swimming lessons in the winter because a) WINTER and b) see A. We got to the first class, which was an enormous feat unto itself, but I got the times wrong and we "swam" for the last 15 minutes of class. And then Jack had a cold, or I had a cold, and then a doctor's appointment, and then it was so cold, and then snow, and then before you know it, we missed every single class, except for those first 15 minutes. Whoops.

Jack warmed to the water again this summer, and we started swimming lessons again on Tuesday. This time, Jack can sit. Stand! Walk! It is a game changer. So much easier to get him out of a wet bathing suit and into clothes! It's super loud, our teacher is a huge fan of yelling, which is a bit much for my little guy, and it took a while to get into the water, but once we did, it was great. And this time around, I'm armed with a few extra tips:

1). I bike over. Or I'll drive when it gets too cold. The walk was just too long, lugging bags of towels, snacks, etc.

2). I pack a million towels. Okay, four. One for me, one for him, one for the floor for Jack to stand on and one for good luck. That was we can both be wrapped in towels the minute we get out of the pool so no one hits the I'm-so-cold-I-need-to-scream phase and no one has to stand on the grimy tiles.

3). We do whatever we want. Jack isn't in to jumping in, or kicking, or (god forbid!) dunking his head under. So we do our own thing. We gets balls and boats and splash around and sometimes blow bubbles and sing our own songs. I'm sure the instructor hates me, but whatever. This isn't about her...

4). Jack outgrew his swim diaper, but because I'm really not sure how many times we'll actually make it to the pool, I picked up some disposable swim diapers. I'm usually anti-disposable, but man oh man, they're a game changer on the please-don't-poop-on-the-ride-over-mad-dash to the pool. We'll get him another "permanent" swim diaper for the summer when we're in the water all the time, but for now, we're going with toss aways.

5). Bags! I pack extra tote bags so I can have a bag of his clothes, my clothes, extra towels, etc. Makes the post-swim change way faster.

6). Phone in a ziploc baggie. Too many puddles and wild children to risk a bag-less phone.

7). This is probably common sense, but it's taken me a while to figure out: Pack all the warm clothes. Hoodies, toques, trackpants. It seems like overkill on the way over, but is so welcome on the way home.

And crowd-sourced additions:

8). SNACKS! Bring all the snacks. It might be the only way to get changed yourself...

9). If you've got evening lessons, put your kid straight into PJs post-swim (Brilliant, Carolyn!)

10). Keep a swim bag packed and at the ready to keep the pre-class mania at a minimum (Good call, Katherine! I also keep an LZV swim bag at the ready.)

11). If your kiddo is in the pre-sitting up phase, change 'em on a bench against a wall so they don't roll off. (Good tip, Kate!) I'd also add corners are the best spots to stick your little one (and use your legs to keep them put while you change).

12). Wear *your* suit to the pool. Totally key. Changing one human is hard enough. (Though does make for a lot of commando trips home, don't forget to BRING YOUR UNDERPANTS!) Good one, Erica!

13). A bumbo. A friend used to bring a bumbo with her to swimming lessons to keep #2 still while wrangling #1. Brilliant as always, Jess!

14). There is a pool in Ottawa that HAS A PACK & PLAY IN THE CHANGE ROOM so you can stick your kid in it while you change. It might be worth moving cities just for that... The changer oom at our local is so wee strollers are banned, but if yours is big enough, it might be worth suggesting to pool management??

There was a mom of an older kid who offered to hold Jack last fall while I changed and I almost wept from her kindness. I have yet to be able to pay it forward, but I'm gonna!

And a note to the new-ish moms in the change room who were so embarrassed about their bikini lines – NO ONE'S LOOKING! I swear. No one cares. (I tell myself that at length swim, too!). But really. Who cares if you haven't shaved/waxed/whatevered. Everyone's too busy juggling wriggly, slippery kids. No one's judging anyone...

Most of all, I aspire to sit on the deck while Jack swims like Kerry now does. One day, one day...Her ode to Guardian Swim is perfect and hilarious and gives me hope for the days where I'll be able to read while Jack does bobs/treadswater/stride jumps into the deep end...

  • Lindsay
  • Thursday, October 13, 2016

A secret morning swim

Tip: If someone, anyone, ever asks you to show up at a pool before the sun rises, when you'll be the only ones in the water, say yes.

Waking up at 4am is never very much fun, but waking up at 4am to drive across the city with one of your swimming besties to see the sun rise over an Olympic pool perched in the sky, and sneaking in stolen lengths in an empty pool, now THAT is fun. It feels like a thousand years ago now, but it was a highlight of the swimmingest summer on record.

I'd always wanted to swim at the Donald Summerville Olympic Pool in The Beaches (known to locals as the Olympic Pool, according to the lifeguard/manager who was up before dawn with us), but trekking to the opposite end of the city is tricky with a kiddo. It did not disappoint – there are three (!!) pools perched in the sky, with a view of the lake, the CN Tower, the rumble of Lakeshore traffic. One pool is a diving tank with a huge diving tower at 5m and 10m (my legs quake just remembering them), a smaller square-ish pool in the middle, then a 50m beauty, made even more beautiful under a rising sky.

Though we are swimmers, not jumpers, we jumped. (And in Rhya's case, jumped and jumped and jumped!)

LZV: I watched Rhya jump and jump, more and more proud of her with each descent. I didn't want to. I really didn't, but if I hadn't, I always would've wondered if I should've tried. So I tried it. And I know now with 100% certainty that I'll never do it again. It was truly terrifying. The water was SO far down and there was WAAAAAY too much time to think in the air. That suspension of everything except my mind trying to figure out how to hit the water, without having any control over my body was one of the most disorienting and unpleasant feelings I've had. I have no idea how divers do what they do. I flailed in the air. Air is nothing like water. I much prefer being amphibious...

After the thwack and sting of the bellyflopped parts of our bodies had worn off, and the sun was big and bright over the beach, we snuck into the Olympic pool and swam 50m lengths, marvelling at how much longer it felt than the 25m (and sometimes 25 yard!) we're used to.

Some Things I'll Never Forget About Our Secret Swim ~ Rhya

On an early morning in July, Lindsay and I took part in a film shoot documenting outdoor pools and swimming in Toronto. A pool date we nicknamed our “Secret Swim.”

Before this dip I’m not sure I’d ever woken before the sun for a swim or had the chance to stand on the deck of an outdoor Olympic sized pool, with only the company of a dear friend by my side.

After our “secret swim,” these are two experiences that I’ll never forget for the rest of my life!
I will also never let go of the memory of the sun rising over the lake, while the horizon swelled up with the promise of warmth, letting loose a million crystals to dance across the smooth surface of our sleepy lengths stretched before us.

And then there was the jumping in from heights I never thought I would fall from (too many times to count!) I’ll never forget to point my toes again; water can be truly unforgiving! Oh and the wedgies were unreal. We also got to witness a professional diver fall gracefully out of a handstand, from the top diving platform and barely make a splash. It was truly magical.

And last but not least there were the lengths Lindsay and I shared at the end our time at the J. Donald D Summerville Olympic Pool. A perfect end to a secret swim.

But if Lindsay and I ever have this chance again, we will not wait for the crew to arrive before we jump in. We will break the rules and dive into the morning and never look back.

  • Lindsay
  • Tuesday, October 11, 2016

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