More Swimming Rhythms

breathing stroke rhythms

When I’m swimming across Lake Nokomis during open swim club during the summer, I often vary how many strokes I swim before I breathe. Sometimes I breathe every 5 strokes. Sometimes I breathe every 5, then 6, or 3, then 5. Later, I like turning these stroke counts into syllables for short poems about swimming.

five/six/three/five

Not slow but steady
rhythmically slicing through
the blue brown
water in the lake

Something cold then warm
cold again thick then thing
never clear
always distorted

Learning to be blind–
or not blind, low vision–
focus gone
approximate shapes

In water senses
are strange perception off
images
are jumbled broken

The source of sound is
everywhere then nowhere
close then far
sharp loud muffled soft

every five


Catch pull push release
five times then a breath

three/six/three/six

powerful
strong shoulders and straight strokes
jubilant
generous lungs stay filled

five/six/five/six

swimming little loops
well–not little loops but
loops that are smaller
than loops across the lake

“welcome!” says water
“join us!” cry out the fish
“hello!” calls the bird
perched on the white buoy