Ma Preps for Lap Swim

Ma puts on her swim cap. Ma works on her freestyle.

Ma preps for lap swim.

"She's almost 65," Pa said. "She'll probably look the same at 85, just like Pap."

I think on that and realize it's probably a truth. Ma looks pretty much like she did when she was in her forties.

When I'm in Pittsburgh in the summertime, I swim laps at the North Park Pool with Ma. It's one of those rare, classic WPA-era public pools of Olympic size. Ma's there almost every day, hot or cold days, in clear or rainy weather. She gets in a mile every time.

Ma said she took some swim classes in college but nothing since then. Her essential technique is sheer will. I've picked up lots of efficiency tricks in my quests to earn the prestigious 25 Mile Club t-shirts from NYC Parks – I'm going for my third consecutive trophy shirt this year – so we do a little workshopping when we're here together. We came Saturday. We're here again today.

Pa stays at home, watches Gma if it's my parents' week to care for her. Pa loved swimming too. He'd asked his surgeon to drill the stoma on the back of his neck instead, like a whale's blowhole so he could keep swimming. They politely declined his request, said that was a slightly more complicated procedure.

I got Ma on to bilateral breathing back in June. She's got it down now. Next step is getting her to keep a high elbow in the water.