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.


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

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

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

In water senses
are strange perception off
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


strong shoulders and straight strokes
generous lungs stay filled


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