It’s What We Do

Today my daughters and I drove seven hours to my hometown where 84% of my relatives still live. We weren’t in town but an hour before everyone started gathering at the swimming pool.

It’s what we do. We’re a family of swimmers.

My mother is partly to blame. She did synchronized swimming at some point in her younger years. And when I was a kid she used to have my siblings and me swim around an island every time we were out for a day at the lake. My dad contributed, too, with comments, while we were young, like “Go play on the highway” and “Go play in the riptide.” Later, it was, “We didn’t come all the way out here for nothing! I don’t care if it’s 55 degrees and raining, you will water ski!” as he picked us up and threw us overboard.

My sister and I ended up on the high school swim team by default. We couldn’t run, but man, we could swim in anything and do it for forever. And I lifeguarded back in the day, the most coveted summer job in town. My sister’s three children all grew up with USA Swimming and were outstanding high school swimmers. My girls were raised at the pool, too—USA Swimming for many years, high school swimming and diving, and now lifeguarding during the summer. My brothers’ boys, who are about the same age as my kids, were excellent on USA Swimming, too, as well as on their high school team. And they also lifeguard.

Often times we’ll meet at the pool to swim laps or just visit while treading water in the deep end, but this time it was mostly about the next generation. My sister’s kids are all grown and married now (and all three have returned to the hometown) and are starting families of their own. There are three young ones so far with another due in a couple of weeks. The main purpose for being at the pool this time was to play with the kids and ooo and ahhh at their nascent swimming skills.

I went to the pool a bit early to swim some laps before the relatives arrived. I thought my sister might appear and do the same and that we’d meet in a lane, totally unplanned. It wouldn’t be a coincidence if she had; it’s just what we do.

Owen again

Holding my great-nephew, three-month-old Own Daniel, in the locker room after swimming.

Owen 1

Owen’s tired after an hour and a half in the water. He’ll get used to it. It’s what we do.

Soon my niece was there with her two little ones, the youngest of whom—Owen Daniel—I met for the first time tonight. Then everyone else trickled in. 14 of us. (A few stayed home.)

I was in the water for two hours, swimming laps, playing with the little girls, treading and visiting with my nieces and nephews, and then holding my easy-going, mellow grand-nephew for about 45 minutes in the baby pool. He was fascinated with the lady with the purple head (I had a cap on) and four eyes (goggles up on my forehead ).

We stayed not until the kids got tired but until closing time, catching up on everyone’s lives while hanging out in the water.

It’s just what we do.