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The Black Line

May 10, 2012

I’m not sure if it’s specific to swimmers, but it’s what I have known for over 30 years now. It’s been with me through some amazing times in my life…. and some really horrible times.

I am talking about the black line. Up there, that runs the length of the pool. It’s one of my longest standing friends and at times my fiercest enemies. Wherever I go in my life, I always find it. I always look for it. It provides me with a sense of comfort. No matter what city I am in, what time of day, no matter what is happening in the world around me, the minute I push-off the wall in a streamline….. it’s there. It’s the common denominator of so many things in my life.

As a kid I followed it. In swim team we circled around it, and then in meets had to remember to stay on it. Through those years I cried in my goggles more times than I will ever admit to you, but I laughed just as much. I remember when my grandmother died, I was 12. My first experience with death and the beginning of my hatred for that f*cking disease we call cancer. I have a slight issue with cancer as you might have noticed.

I remember getting into the pool and looking down at that black line. My coach said …. just follow the line tonight.” And that’s what I did. That’s what I have always done.

When I went to college in a strange city with strange people it was the one thing familiar to me.

When I began triathlon in 1996 …. the Edinboro Triathlon…. it was the one thing I was missing. Open water was new territory for me and my black line was gone.

When I was pregnant with our son it was the one thing that never changed. I stared at it the day I delivered for 4,000 yards feeling like I was about to take an exam I hadn’t studied for. Wondering what motherhood would feel like, just a few hours away. Was I ready, would I know what to do? Who would this little boy who had been swimming with me for 9 months be when he grew up?

That black line has never had an answer for me but at the same time it’s had every answer.

Every decision I have ever had to make…. except the answer to “will you marry me” (I knew that one right away) I have swam over. I have contemplated by staring at that black line.

I don’t know if this feeling, this experience is specific to swimmers….  it’s just what I know.

When I train it dares me. When I race I want to kill it. It’s never abandoned me and I have taken it for granted.

It’s just a line on the bottom of the pool… that’s what you will tell me.

But it’s so much more than that. To me it’s a representation of my life in a way. You see me swim back and forth but the yards and miles I have swam with that line are too many to count or even comprehend. That line knows where I have been. It knows what I have dreamt. It knows how many tears I have cried in those swedes.

(It’s even been with me when I raced Mr. Armstrong)

My coffin will have to have a black line painted down the inside of the damn lid.

Every morning as I sip my coffee I take a minute and I look down the lane. I think about the journey we have been on all these years together.

And we are not even halfway done yet.

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One comment

  1. me too. 🙂



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