In the pool, there is no perfect. There are arms for pulling, legs for kicking, lungs for breathing, hands for paddling, feet for walking, eyes for seeing. Some stronger than others, some with more laps under their belt, but all just doing their thing. Freckled skin, pale skin and tanned, side by side with water gliding over and around. In the pool, you feel everything work. You give your body the attention it needs. There’s no room for body shame in the pool. There’s work to be done.

If you want to conquer your body shame you need to head to the pool, around 7am, on a weekday morning. Diversity is the order of the day. Look at the lean fit bodies of the swimmers, then look further and notice the ladies walking laps with crepe paper skin and silver white hair. Bodies rounded and shaped by time. See the man with the freckled skin, intermittently tattooed. Gaze upon the couple who hold hands as they arrive. They are separated only because she swims better than he does though and is soon laps ahead. Notice the everyday people doing everyday things with their everyday body… And cut your body some slack.

Taking a rest at one end I look around at my fellow swimmers, imperfectly perfect in their bodies, and I wonder what they think about. I wonder if those women who have lived decades longer than I have are pondering their bodies and minds too. Or perhaps it’s time they consider. The man who removes himself gracefully from his wheelchair to feel the freedom of the water, what is his mind focused on? The people of the pool and I nod and smile, exchange the occasional good morning or hello, but we don’t talk much. It’s our time with ourselves, our body and our mind.

So I stretch my body out with long, strong strokes, lengthening the time between breaths and get into a rhythm. I do my laps squinting in the bright glare of the morning sun, finding space for my mind too. I like to take a few words with me on my swim, a quote or an idea to ponder. The movement of my body, the focused, uncluttered nature of my mind, it allows me time to think without thinking. Things just show up. Sometimes I don’t recall thinking about the question at all, but the answer shows up. It’s the magic of the pool.

No one gets that better than the people of the pool.

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