The Heartbeat in the Water


He sat in the humid room that smelled of chlorine and watched me bob up and down in the water. My turquoise swimsuit shimmered like a tropical fish in the ocean. I was a “natural” my teacher told him. Each time I climbed up the diving board I’d yell “Watch me daddy, watch me,” and each time I bobbed to the surface I’d see his face smiling at me.

I loved to swim. It was my escape.

I would dive deep under the crystal blue water, and the only sound I would hear was my own heart beating, the reassurance of life.




It resounded in my ears.

As I wiggled my way down the length of the pool I was comforted by its predictable rhythm.

I would hold my breath until I thought my lungs would burst, and then scramble for the surface. My head would break the water and that heart and head connection would be replaced by screaming children and the sounds of splashing. Immediately I would dive again searching for that beating heart in the water.

That sound had all but disappeared until four years ago when I started swimming again for triathlon training. A clumsy adult who panicked when her head hit the water had replaced the once graceful tropical fish.

Swimming had become a chore, a “must do” on the training list. Each stroke was torture and I would do the minimum amount of laps, so I wouldn’t have to stay in the pool any longer than I had to.

After two minor panic attacks during last summer’s triathlons I knew I needed to learn to swim again.


The water is cold, heart stopping cold, and I bob up and down, like I did years ago during those swim lessons. Eventually, my body warms up. I snap my goggles into place and begin. Stroke, stroke, breathe. Bubbles lead my way, and I try to make sure my face is in the water, make sure to ease my mind and let the panic fade.

After a while, the strokes become easier, and my breath slows. A rhythm is formed and through the bubbles I can start to hear it.




The heartbeat in the water has returned.

Triathlon Swim

7 thoughts on “The Heartbeat in the Water

  1. YAY for the thump!! I’m glad you rediscovered your love for the water. When I was a kid, I would spend ENDLESS summer hours in the pool. I also used to swim for 3 years in high school. Then I stopped, for many years since. But now with pregnancy, it’s one of the few ways I can exercise without overexerting myself, and I’m coming back to my love for it too.
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  2. Sounds like chest thumping time, too. Be proud of yourself. WORK hard but don’t get too caught up that you don’t see that you are a warrior and beautiful. But I think you know that. 😉

    I’m proud of you, friend.

    Now work it some more. Keep on working it until you can’t work it then work it some more cause I know you can.

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  3. I used to love the water as a kid. Now I barely tolerate it for the sake of my kids. I wish I could be more comfortable with it again.

  4. Beautiful, poetic and uplifting. I do find myself to be clumsy in places I used to excel. My nerdy example is video games which I realize is NOTHING like swimming. Not athletic or beautiful. However it does come back, doesn’t it?
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