2011-06-02

Swim or Sink - Part 2

When I began this story, (please see Swim or Sink), I described a certain aspect of my personal history which culminated on February 3, 2011 in real time. On that date, my sixty-sixth birthday as fate would have it, I was 5' 8 1/2 " tall, weighed 245lbs, and hadn't voluntarily left my chair or couch for thirty years. Disgusting.

Yet, after watching a video clip of Shinji Takeuchi slicing through time, space and twenty five meters of water with what can only be described as pure grace, I dreamed of resurrecting that element of my inner past in which long hidden photographs suggest I might once have been an athlete.

So on February 12, 2011, I left home in Iqaluit on a pilgrimmage to the shrine of Total Immersion swimming in New Paltz, N.Y..

Founder and Head Coach Terry Laughlin was just heading home from Japan that day, so I was greeted by Betsy and the Beast, respectively Terry's daughter and the indescribable Shane Eversfield.

Never in your life have you ever seen such a ludicrous juxtaposition of visual icons as my 5'8" 245 lbs slab of rent-a-carcass standing beside Shane's meticulously tuned 6'6" world class triathlon frame. I wish I had filmed it for posterity, but it is still much too soon and embarrassing to post 'before' and 'after' photos. Maybe in another six months.

Over four days, two hours per day, Shane introduced me to the barest rudiments of Total Immersion swimming. Good thing I have a gift for understanding theory, because I was teat useless at execution all that week. Shane's endless patience only left me feeling even more embarrassed. I kept wishing he'd yell at me, mercilessly tease me and shame me into some sort of overt howl of repentence.

But no. Not Shane. Instead I had to suffer the even greater shame of a four day litany of the sweetest 1960's California (Hawai'i) freak-rap ego strokes, replete with groovies and neats and renaissant cools... until, as the week mercifully drew to a close, I was treated to the ultimate blessing of, "... now THAT came dangerously close to swimming!"

As I drove off for Montreal and airplane rides that would eventually take me back to my arctic home in Nunavut, I knew something profound had changed. In later conversations with Shane and Terry, I got a little carried away with analogies to the 4th Century Desert Fathers, St. John of the Cross and Teresa of Avilla, but the truth remained that Terry has gifted the world with a kinetic counterpoint to contemplation that is ideally suited to North America, the boomer generation, and the next third of human life. Sixty to ninety. 6290

This realization seemed so fundamental that I decided to demote all my other priorities for a full year to recover my physical health and, literally, save my life. All my other priorities can darn well fall by the wayside if need be, until I am firmly established in a new routine of easy perpetual motion that might culminate in moments of infused contemplation.

Such has been my focus since I arrived back in Nunavut and entered our tiny Iqaluit municipal swimming pool for my first session at 11:30 AM on March 14th.

I will leave you with only one additional tiding until the next installment in this story.

I awoke this morning, with no pain, no hunger pangs and no penitential compunctions. After barely three months, I weigh 220 lbs rather than 245 and can reasonably expect to reach 210 by Labour Day, 200 by Christmas, and 180 by this time next year.

( continued here ...)

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