I was the only swimmer from my team who was either dedicated enough, or stupid enough to attend morning practice at 5AM.

5AM at the YMCA is a feeling difficult to describe to another.  To be alone, silent and still in a usually bustling, busy, smelly, loud place can be like taking time away from time.  I’d turn on the pool lights.  When you flip the switch, you hear a hum, but the orange halogen of the ceiling lamps would remain dark at first and their light would rise slowly.  But the pool lights would come on instantly.  The water glowed and its surface was absolutely still, like glass.  To dive in seemed violative.  I would always hesitate for a moment to listen and watch.  I didn’t even want to start the ripples with my toe.  But I had to dive in .

"Swimmer in Quarters" terra cotta with silk screened images by Michael Pfleghaar

"Swimmer in Quarters" terra cotta with silk screened images by Michael Pfleghaar

The crash of breaking that stillness seemed louder to me than at any other time of day.  Fingers first, I’d rip that quiet plane, pulling down with me, the hovering air.  I would watch silvery streams of bubbles from my fingernails under the water, so mundane, yet appearing mysterious, like mercury.  The stillness was broken for the day, never to rest until the next night.

Invariably, as I ascended to the surface to begin my first stroke of that cold water, my imagination would reflect on an imaginary singular moment just prior to entry in which my then athletic form was still hovering above the glass like a muscular arrow.

In some ways, beginning this blog is reminiscent of diving nearly naked into the cold YMCA pool.  A week ago I completed my WordPress registration and since then I have been suspended in the air without posting.  So here I come, and here comes the noise, the cold rush, the…


Artwork by Michael Pfleghaar, used with permission.