In the Vicinity

Being a teacher, I am free, on these summer days, to go and be and do (practically) whatever I want and I often find myself at the outdoor pool at Lincoln Park. 

I have my routine down. I wear my flip-flops and a trisuit and pack a small bag: towel, cap, goggles, water bottle, hat, book, phone, five bucks. The bike ride there, despite the 100 degree heat, is refreshing, the wind chill actually cooling me a bit as I pedal.

My swimming workout is routine, too, which isn’t good. I need to break out of it, surprise my muscles a bit. Egh, maybe I’ll change it up after the lazy days of summer are over. For now, I swim 500 yards of freestyle, hop out and read until the heat gets to me, swim a 500 of mixed breaststroke and backstroke, read for a while more, and then swim another 500 freestyle. Add in the bike ride and it’s plenty for this warmish afternoon.


Amy roves in the shallow end.

Addy patrols the deep end.

Today when I get in, I notice a woman in the lane next to me, speaking with her two children as they dance on the hot cement at the edge of the pool. They look to be about five and seven. The older one says that they’re headed over to the diving board. I’m guessing they’ve jumped off it before; they appear confident and mom seems nonchalant. My knowing eye, however, detects her delight in the announcement.


The day Amy learned she could jump in and swim back to the wall on her own.

I am reminded of the different stages of my own children’s evolution with swimming. Being dunked as babies. The day they first jumped off the edge and got back to the side on their own, my fingers just inches away, ready to give a nudge at the first sign of struggle. Participating on their first swim team, while I ran laps on the elevated track above, catching glimpses of them when possible. Doing what this mom is doing–remaining in the vicinity, watching, being available. Then it got to the point where I could drop them off at swim practice and return later or allow them to ride their bikes to the pool with their friends.

And now? Well, I’m not just here to get out of my muggy house and burn a few calories. I’m here because my girls–now 15 and 16 years old–are here, too. They’re lifeguards. And like the mom next to me, I want to be in the vicinity. I, too, sometimes just stop my laps or put my book down and observe as they do their thing, thinking back, with satisfaction, on all the phases they’ve gone through to get to where they are now.

In the vicinity. It’s a good place to be on a hot summer afternoon.

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Amy Lengyel
    Jul 23, 2013 @ 17:16:31

    I love this, Randee! It’s so true….I love to just be in the vicinity of my kids…even as they get older and are able to be on their own. Plus…the pool is just the place to hang out on a hot day! So many memories of my own life-guarding days as well as my kids learning to swim…


    • Randee
      Jul 24, 2013 @ 10:36:50

      Amy, thanks for following my blog and for commenting. My first comment, so exciting! I, too, used to life guard and let me tell you, things sure have changed. My girls had an initial weekend of training of April and have to accumulate so many hours of inservice training per week as well as participate in boot camp (working out to stay strong and in shape). Also, they get VATTed (not sure what this stands for) throughout the summer. This is when a manager throws a baby doll into the pool when the guard is looking in the other direction. The doll sinks to the bottom. The guard has just 20 seconds to recover the doll. Back in my day, we pretty much just tried to look cute and avoid the splashing and harassing of teenage boys. At our pools, you are not allowed to bother the guards in any way whatsoever. It’s a good job for them with a lot of responsibility.


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