This week swimming at Westside, I have been reminded of a general truth about swimming pools: wherever you go, the kickboards have bite marks. I don’t understand this phenomenon; I swam for years as a child, and I’ve swum for years as an adult, and I’ve never wanted to bite a kickboard. But there are a lot of people in the world, and we all want different things, and it seems many of us want to sink our teeth into a piece of foam, because there are always bite marks, little crescents of tooth prints, along the edges of the boards.
Westside is a beautiful pool, recently renovated, but the kickboards are antediluvian; I imagine elephants and tigers swimming alongside Noah’s ark, two by two, doing their kick sets with these boards, while waiting for the waters to recede. The kickboards at Furman are newer, and I have a favorite kind (yellow, slightly flexible); some of them have had “R.I.P.” written on them in black Sharpie to make them look like yellow tombstones, which is not completely unfunny. Maybe for my grave I can have a yellow kickboard tombstone, with my name and my dates and bite marks along the edges.
Every pool I’ve ever been in has had kickboards for swimmers to use. But when I went to the Kroc Center a few months ago, I couldn’t find them. While I was looking, a lifeguard approached me and told me that I could get a board at the desk. The board they gave me was hard plastic, shaped like a small shield. I liked it a lot, because it floated low in the water (you want your kickboard to be low in the water, so that it isn’t aggravating your shoulders; there’s a man at my pool who kicks with two kickboards in a little stack, and I wince for his shoulders when I see him). Anyhow, I have ordered myself one, and I will soon be one of those posh swimmers who bring their own kickboards to the pool.
It seems to me that I could bite on my new kickboard in times of rage, and I would look like the Lewis chessmen berserker.
US Masters Swimming is running a postal competition during the month of December, the 400 Kick for Time, where you get a friend to time you in your own pool and you kick the fastest 400 yards you can, no fins. You send in the time via a website (the postals are postal in name only these days). Winners get universal acclaim; everyone gets a t-shirt.