Last Wednesday, I was dreading my swim workout. It was cold, dank, and the clouds were about to unleash some rain. Not the ideal conditions for swimming outside at night. My indoor option was shut out due to a water polo tournament. I was just going to have to bite the bullet and do it alone.
About an hour before my workout, my 15-year old nephew Noah called, “Auntie? Remember how we used to go swimming together? You wanna go swimming tonight?”
“Buddy, I HAVE to go swimming tonight” I said.
“Can I go with you?” he asked, “I need to work out.”
He takes after me. Swimming isn’t his strong suit. He gets cold easily. I figured he wouldn’t really want to subject himself to it, but he persisted.
“It’s gonna be cold!” I said.
“I’ll bring extra clothes!” he replied.
“I can’t get out of the water until I’ve done 2700 yards.” I said.
“I’ll bring something to work on!” he insisted.
You mean I could get my workout in and get him to work on his homework? Now that was an offer I couldn’t refuse. I brought him some food and a blanket too – just in case.
In the car, I explained what I had on tap, 4 x 25, 4 x 50, and 10 x 200 plus warm-ups and cool-downs. 2700 was the most I’d ever swam in my life, so this was kind of intimidating for me.
“You can do it, Auntie!” he said.
My buddy. He was the company I needed that night. I hadn’t swam with him for about a year. He showed up in his board shorts. I couldn’t help noticing how much he’s grown. He’s looking more manly, but he’s still all boy. And he couldn’t help noticing how much I’ve grown, too. (Three years ago when we swam together, I couldn’t go beyond 75 yards without stopping to save my life. We’d play Marco Polo and dance in the shallow end of the pool with my niece.)
“How many do you have to go now?” he asked.
“Two 50s and ten 200s.” I said before starting another lap.
Then he asked again a few minutes later, “How many more do you have to do now?”
“Nine 200s, “ I said, gasping for breath.
His eyes widened. He could see this was challenging. But he surprised me. Instead of getting out of the pool after a quick dip, he said, “Auntie, I can’t keep up with you, but I’m going to try to swim with you every other lap.”
Sometimes he could. Sometimes he couldn’t. It didn’t matter. What mattered was that he stayed in the pool throughout the rest of my workout, taking it in and offering me encouragement.
On the way out, we noticed my coach, Beth, in a lane. I introduced them, and explained to Noah how she had helped me so much with my swimming. "Don't cha' think she's helped me a lot?" I asked him. "Yeah, you used to be worse than me!" he said.
Photo above: Here we are on Halloween. Noah handed me a bandana to wear as a costume. “Here Auntie! Look tough, like a biker chick.”