A secret morning swim

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

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.

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