There is More than One Way to Swim a Lap

Swim teams follow a regimen that requires the precision of a ballet troupe. Each lane is filled with swimmers who go back and forth, maintaining a common speed and distance. Turns at the ends of the pool are executed with precision, and woe to the swimmer who messes up the rhythm. Lap swimmers, on the other hand, have unique ways of maneuvering through the water from end to end and back again. Some use one stroke only, never varying from the free style. Others use a variety of strokes. Some swimmers take no breaks, and others insist upon breaks timed to the second at specific intervals. Some begin or end with stretching exercises, and others use flippers, swim gloves, weights and snorkels to enhance their performance. As for me, I refer to myself as “grandma turtle,” for I am usually the slowest swimmer in the pool. At the suggestion of a physical therapist, I swim one length of back stroke, followed by one length of free style. My twenty laps (a bit over half a mile) are broken into groups of four, with each group spelling out L O V E. (I lose my place when I try counting. Letters work better for me.)


The majority of adults who swim laps on a regular basis are not doing it to compete in the Olympics, or any other organized program. We are swimming to stay fit, to keep our joints moving, maybe to lose a little weight, and to promote good health. At one pool where I swam, almost every swimmer/walker had a scar or two from joint replacements, heart operations or other medical procedures. We may have our unique ways of accomplishing our exercise, but our goals are surprisingly similar.


As our country moves through a time of transition in governments at many levels, in what is “normal” in schools, workplaces, recreation and shopping, in ways of being in connection with one another, we may want to act more like lap swimmers than a swim team. Some of us may need adaptive equipment or practices to manage technology. We may have to admit that, when it comes to the computer or our smart phone, we are not smarter than a fifth grader! Some of us may take longer to complete tasks until we become more proficient. When we order groceries and get one green bean instead of one pound of green beans, we may have to change the menu. We need the swim team and true athletes to allow us the freedom to be grandma turtle, and grandma turtles need not feel inadequate because we can’t swim with the fishes.


Perhaps, most of all, we may all need to stay in our preferred lanes. An unwritten “rule” of the pool is that one doesn’t enter another person’s lane without permission. Unless the swimmer is at the far end of the pool, don’t cross a lane without asking permission. Don’t suggest to another swimmer that they are swimming incorrectly. Don’t assume that there is only one way to swim laps – my way. If our goals are the same – a community where all people are treated with respect, where justice is available to everyone, where children are valued and elders are protected, where all people have the right to “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happinesswe can reach those goals without lockstep agreement. In fact, we can achieve the goals sooner, with greater success, by swimming our laps in ways that encourage others to swim beside us, using their lane and their gifts in the best way possible.


Stay safe and be blessed,

Pastor Barbara

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