Why in the water we are all of us equals.
It’s length seven. I raise my chin so my forehead cuts through the water, easing the way so the rest of my plus-sized body can follow, sylph like.
My head is lifted in such a way that my face, including my eyes, remains underwater. Through the protection of the lenses of my bright pink goggles, I can see confident arms alternating in stretching forwards and then scooping backwards towards my belly before I release my strong, slender hands skywards where they to continue this cycle of push-pull, of water-air.
The pattern repeats seamlessly, accompanied by the comforting undulation of the constant that is my long legs kicking smoothly from my hip: my knees give a little with each up-down movement, my feet are streamlined. Down my neck, across my shoulders, around my spine and my thighs right down to my toes I am supple and I am strong.
Every three strokes I take a breath: left, right, left. With each breath to my right, I catch sight of J’s form. His technique is not dissimilar to mine but whereas I slip through the water as seamlessly as possible, he parts it with force.
J is stronger than me. Fitter than me. More co-ordinated and more agile than me. But years of training make me the better swimmer.
Despite our different physiques, approaches, styles, the water is one of the few places we remain equal. Here we are always good together.
We finish a length, come up for air, catch each other’s eye and smile, “13 more to go?” “Sure”. Another half-length in, though, small hands clasp my broad shoulders and I use all the air in my lungs while I raise from the water to draw breath. I hear giggles and calls of “all aboard the Mummy bus” and I see J’s succumbed to a similar fate.
It’s our turn to laugh now as we hold and lift and tickle and take turns to launch the boys high above us, towards the darkening sky, before they plunge briefly beneath the lit, turquoise pool.
A few more throws and a game of catch later, we swim for the side. Empowered, stretched, tired and content, I turn to see my family following me eagerly, like ducklings in the moonlight. They are happy to see me happy and thrilled to see a side to me that on land perhaps feels harder to reach.
I use the power in my arms to lift my large self effortlessly from the pool.
I feel at peace and I feel like this is who I always want to be.