September 18, 2020

Another Month of the Pandemic, A New Swimming Pool to Try

We just passed the six-month-mark of the coronavirus pandemic this week. It's starting to feel like it's never going to end. 

Sometimes it feels like I'm drowning in anxiety. 

And the only thing that helps me come up for air is getting in the water. Even when it stresses me out

It's still better than life on dry land. 

The City of LA's aquatics facilities haven't reopened yet. The West Hollywood Pool has been demolished. And reservations for the Culver City and Santa Monica public pools have become increasingly hard to come by—especially when residents have first dibs.

So, I've returned to my routine from when I first moved to LA—which is to try any pool I can get into that's new to me, no matter where it is. 

Today, my swimming took me to the South Bay municipality of Torrance, California. 

Instead of driving 20 minutes to swim for 40, today I had to drive an hour to get to my time slot. 

It was slightly quicker getting back home—but I still questioned my sanity. 

After a week of swim session cancelations because of poor air quality—with smoke from the wildfires that are raging up and down the Pacific West and Northwest blanketing us in a milky-white haze and an orange glow—I was willing to drive pretty much anywhere, as long as I could find a pool that would take me. 

The Torrance Plunge is named after former Torrance City Councilman Victor E. Benstead, who served from 1952 to 1964. It was his idea to build the Plunge. It was even part of his campaign platform—the one that helped him get elected to city council. 

After he fulfilled his campaign promise, his fellow council members surprised him with the renaming. And the name has stuck since it was originally dedicated in 1956. 

Despite the pandemic, the Torrance Plunge offers the chance to swim laps in half the length of its Olympic size—and, as with the other pools during the pandemic, in a lane all to yourself. 

The west wall of the plunge—at the deep end—features a mural by artist Emily Bradley, which was unveiled late last year. 

But I didn't notice much of anything beyond the first blue sky I'd seen in two weeks. 

That, and the blue and white backstroke pennant flags above me, flapping in the ocean breeze. I stared at them as I counted to 25 and reached out my hand to brace myself against the wall behind me. 

So, where to next?

I'm open to suggestions. 

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