Swimming is not only a great way to exercise but it could save your life.
The year was 1960 and I remember going to the base swimming pool in Tachikawa, Japan. We had a little red patch we had sewn on our swimming trunks. This gave us access to swim from 10am to 8pm every day of the week. I recall many hot humid days in summer my friends and I would be there when the pool opened and it was a Death Sprint to see who could jump into the pool first disturbing the placid water. We could swim for a few hours (more playing than swimming) and then we would break for lunch. We were on our own most days, but even when Mom wasn’t there, We all ate and then sat out for up to an hour just as we had been taught. Military families are used to rules and following them is just what the military is all about.
So after about forty-five minutes or so, we would resume our splashing and would carry on until the lifeguard would blow the whistle for a mandatory 10-minute break. They did this every two hours. If you tried to get cute and jump in early, you would have to sit out an extra five minutes watching everyone else. It was torture. I remember swimming underwater through all the kids standing, playing, and swimming like it was yesterday. I do not want to think of the quality of water in that pool after 10 hours of kids doing whatever kids do in pools.
We would have contests how long we could swim underwater and I could make it all the way across the pool on one breath. I’m sure if I tried that today, I would probably pop up about halfway across, gasping for dear life. But maybe not. My lungs have remained amazingly clear and strong in spite of all the weed I have smoked. And I take deeeep hits.
I know this: I won’t sink.
I remember a brand-new thing: girls were being allowed (for the very first time) to train to be lifeguards. Another small step for mankind.
The big thing at the concession stand was a brand-new treat (never before seen by us): frozen yogurt! We would often receive things “later than the Western world.” For example, my father, who lived in California, would send my sister records of the latest popular records, and that pretty much made her a hit with all her friends who would come over and scream and dance and carry on. This was brand-new music to them, even though kids in the States had been jamming to the music for weeks.
I was already liking girls so I would have a blast watching them. The cool thing is that invariably, my sister and her friends would do something “bad” like smoking or drinking liquor. That gave me ammunition to “rat out” my sister which usually resulted in me getting some sort of “payoff.”
I learned early.
Learn how to swim and just think of it as an exercise that just might help you navigate through a school of stinging jellyfish, fend off a hungry Hammerhead shark, avoid certain death, and save your life.