Column: Leave swimming to the penguins

Despite what experts say, swimming is NOT good for you.

I learned this the other day after deciding to take an early morning swim at the local YMCA. The plan was to jump in the pool, swim 20 or so laps, jump out of the pool and then get ready for my day.

The best laid plans of penguins and men…

First of all, water’s cold. This is a universal truth. Unless the water is occupying a Jacuzzi or a pan on a stove, it’s inevitably cold. There’s no such thing as a heated pool. A heated pool is simply a pool that’s a little less cold than your average pool, which means you’ll suffer longer before getting hypothermia.

So jumping into the pool was about as pleasant as, say, lying naked on an iceberg (which is not as fun as it sounds!).

 Luckily, the best way to stay warm in water is to move around. Most people call this swimming. I call it thrashing about in a forward motion. Swimming can be a beautiful activity to watch when it’s done right. The human torso and the body of water seem to meld together as arms and legs move in perfect synchronicity toward their destination.

That’s swimming when it’s done right.

I, on the other hand, can’t swim in a straight line, which means I look like a drunken penguin when attempting to swim laps. Or, more specifically, I look like a bowling ball thrown by an uncoordinated 5-year-old with the bumpers in place, slowly bouncing off the walls until I careen into the pins.

It’s not pretty.

Furthermore, having let myself go a bit in the past two years, I found out the only way I was going to swim 20 laps was if somebody threw me a pool float and a motor.

By the end of 10 laps, I could barely move. I was exhausted. This threw a huge wrench into my jumping out of the pool plans since there were a good two feet between the water and the side of the pool.

The first time I tried to heave myself out of the pool, I got my body halfway out of the pool before slipping back in.

The second time, I grabbed the board cool swimmers use to dive into the pool in an attempt to lift myself out that way. Again, I fell back into the water.

By this time, the lifeguard was calling her friends to come watch the 24-year-old man who couldn’t get himself out of the swimming pool that 5-year-old girls easily climb out of while text messaging their little friends at the same time.

This left me stuck in the pool. At this point, I had two options. I could try to get out again like the little engine that could, or I could call AAA.

Finally, after resting for a few minutes, I successfully pulled myself out of the pool, swearing that I’d never enter those confounded waters again. I don’t care what the experts say. I’m leaving swimming to the drunken penguins.

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