Swim Time

Swim Time
Scattergories anyone?

Friday, August 8, 2008

Just give 'em the pool!

I think it is fitting that now the Olympics have begun, it is time to discuss the phenomenon that is: the Bronx boys' Friday trip to Fordham University's indoor pool.

Although you may not think it, the Bronx boys love to go to the pool. Whereas demerit points typically add up to canceling sports for any given afternoon, when it comes to Friday... carrot-over-head technique incorporates PPT (Pool Penalty Time).

“I don’t care.” Is an oft-repeated response to discipline in the Bronx. This can be surprisingly effective when executed with careless precision from a consistently stubborn boy. The funniest thing is, when it gets down to it… the boys actually really do care about pool penalty time.

No matter what they say, when they are out of the pool for even five minutes with all of their cronies in said pool, that is about as bad as it gets. Although it is probably in the thug handbook not to get “super-excited” about anything – splashing around in the pool is probably mentioned in the footnotes as one of the most heinous aberrations to the rule. On this one account however, these boys throw caution to the wind.

They love races. Period. You have never seen a 12 year old this tough, slap the water with blind fury, in hopes to reach the finish line (that is the group leader) first.

Initially…they wanted to race me and you better believe, I gave them what they wanted. The first boy I took seriously and the other boys were astonished that in Michael Phelps fashion, he couldn’t even keep up with me for half the race. For this feat, they paid me what might have been the highest compliment of the entire program – something from each of them along the lines of “ YOooo!!! Joel – you MAD fast!”

This was a pretty good day for me, all in all, after one of my younger guys told me I looked like his favorite professional wrestler – Chris Benoit- which was flattering. Only later did I come to realize that this was the guy who in June 2007 killed his wife, then hung himself. The young boys imparting this knowledge on me concluding quite morbidly – “yeah, homicide AND suicide, that’s double bad.”

On a lighter note… it was nice to discover that my curiosity about these boys from a demographic standpoint is not a one-way street. As I was kneeling down at one point helping a boy with something, discussing professional wrestling, another boy, Keyarr moved in for closer investigation of me. In a kind of endearing and innocent way this pretty rough and tumble inner-city kid gently pat my hair, seemingly very inquisitive to the feel. Noticing that I didn’t have too much of a problem with that, as I was in mid-conversation, he thought the next most interesting idea would be to scratch my beard. The serious look of bewilderment on his face at the time was simply comical.

This same little guy was also the most interested in a swim lesson. He had a lot of work to do on his stroke technique but the best part was by far his kick. I only hope I can one day do the impression for you live, because I think asking him if I can shoot a video of him swimming might be just down right patronizing… not to mention weird. For now I hope simply explaining it in word can do it justice. After describing the difference between a scissor kick and a frog/breast stroke type kick, I went on to ask him to do the scissor kick. Slowly sliding his legs back and forth, he had the rough idea, but I could see it would get him nowhere – so I encouraged him: “okay good, now faster – Faster!” What happened next can only be described as pure magic – I could not have scripted a funnier interpretation. His very serious attempt to increase speed can best be expressed as a “seizure-like vibration of the legs.” Later I noted that this is quite normal as a freestyle kick for these guys.

Look out summer of 2012.

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slapshot... Bronx style