A Wintery Ode to Morning Swim Practice

By Shoshanna Rutemiller

Steam rises in wispy waves,
Waving mockingly to a huddle
Of pseudo-amphibians.
I must be crazy.
I can't even see the surface!
As this thick fog-like face fans outward.
Are we 25 yards or 50 meters?
The far wall's disappeared.

Red neon numbers on the pace clock
Cut through the steam like beacons.
Or an unbecoming reminder
That we're leaving on the sixty.
How simple subtraction seems
When tallying the total time till takeoff.
What a tease you are, telling me
The water's warmer than the outside air.
That's simply not the point.

Please push me in coach,
Because my stationary stance
Has me rooted to the deck.
Those curling arms of steam scream STAY!
As the clock burns redder
With each tick to the top.
It's time, I can tell.
Tear off my protective layer
And dive into the twisting tendrils
Of smothering steam.

Well, that wasn't so bad. What on earth took so long?

Special thanks to Grand Canyon University (GCU) Head Coach Steve Schaffer for providing Swimming World with a picture of early-morning practice at the Phoenix Swim Club pool. The chilly deck and steam-covered pool surface was inspiration for the above poem.

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