Swim a Mile

I did my Swim-a-Mile fundraiser for the Woman’s Cancer Resource Center on Sunday afternoon at Mills College in Oakland. In a 25-yard pool, it takes 36 laps to complete a mile. You’re given an hour. I’d collected pledges, mostly a flat fee, although some of my colleagues signed on a per lap basis. One in particular, Parking Karma, asked, “How many laps can you do?”
“How many laps do you think I can do?”
He took a gander. “I don’t think you can do more than 20 laps.”
“Fine, how about you pledge $1 per lap for the first 20 laps, and $2 for each subsequent lap.”

I did 50 laps. OK, so that wasn’t very nice. I’ve been swimming pretty regularly since high school, which I omitted to mention to him. Hey, all’s fair in love and fundraising. Karma gamely, but not terribly graciously coughed up $80, my biggest donor. I felt a bit guilty, so I bought him a good bar of Swiss chocolate as a consolation prize. If I’d thought ahead, I should have bought him a T-shirt.

On the other hand, it had been somewhat gratifying, racking up all those laps, come uppance for Karma for not thinking I could do more than 20 laps. It was almost as sweet as when I beat Ivan in a swimming race in the Olympic-sized pool at Morrison Hill the summer after my junior year in high school. It was the very first time I’d beat him in any athletic endeavor.

Actually, the main reason why I did the Swim-a-Mile was literally to see if I could swim a mile. (I was going to do this last year, but had to be in LA that weekend for a friend’s wedding.) My usual workout is half an hour, and I can never keep track of how many laps I do. At the Swim a Mile, there’s a lane counter for each swimmer, which is a great service. (They also equip themselves with cowbells and pom poms to cheer on the swimmers.) Not to mention a DJ who played upbeat music. It’s got to be good sign when Ricky Martin’s World Cup song is playing as you hit the water, eh?
The Mills College pool is very nice, with a little lawn, and fortunately, did not heat the pool to 85 degrees as claimed (that would have been way too warm.). On a sunny autumn afternoon, it was like being at a country club or a resort.

It turns out that doing 36 laps is not too hard. It took me 40 minutes, at a leisurely pace. I was also weighed down by a decadent brunch of Vietnamese spring rolls, and chow mein and orange chicken at a friend’s house.

After the swim? We went to the House of Chicken and Waffles on the corner of Embarcadero and Broadway (in Oakland. Not SF). I had smothered giblets and liver, two eggs sunnyside up, and grits. Oh boy. Quite the dinner of the champions. Check out the menu mural when you’re there.


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