Sink or Swim: Paul Matwychuk splashes into the deep end.
By Paul Matwychuk | December 1, 2012
A couple of months ago, I stepped on the scale in the mailroom at my office and found out that I was 285 pounds. According to the website I consulted a few days later to learn my ideal body weight; a six-foot-five man like myself should be about 185 pounds.
Granted, our office scale is 15 years old and has never been calibrated. And that website is operated by a company that manufactures shady-looking off-brand diet pills. But none of that prevented the same irrational, panicky message from shrieking through my brain: Oh my god, oh my god, the Internet says I’m 100 pounds overweight!!!
Soon, my rational self prevailed: No way are you 100 pounds overweight, it told me. Of course, it followed that up with, You are looking a little doughy these days, though. And so, as part of a less-than-intense self-designed early-middle-age program to whip myself into a slightly better shape, I decided to take up swimming.
I picked Bonnie Doon Leisure Centre‘s pool as my training location, mainly because it was the public pool closest to my house, but I don’t think I could have picked a place better suited to my needs. It’s rapidly becoming my favourite place in Edmonton.
I like that, like Edmonton, it’s invitingly un-flashy. There are fixtures a couple of decades out of date – a special locker with two quarters lodged in the coin slot in such a way that allows you to use it for free and notices about upcoming events written by hand in Magic Marker on construction paper.
I go there in the morning, when most of my fellow swimmers are senior citizens who bob along in front of me doing their ungainly sidestrokes. I may need to wear a nose plug to avoid inhaling water, and my swimming trunks might keep drifting inexorably down past my hipbones on account of a slack drawstring, but in their company, I can sometimes temporarily fool myself into feeling like an Olympian.
That is, until I enter the change room and I sheepishly apologize to a guy twice my age who has admonished me for getting water on the floor. Of the change room at a pool. I don’t understand his problem, but at least he didn’t call me fat.
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Paul Matwychuk is the general manager of NeWest Press and the resident pop culture columnist for CBC Radio’s Edmonton AM.