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One of my favourite places in Vancouver is Kitsilano Pool, nestled beside English Bay with a spectacular view of the North Shore mountains and the city’s West End. This weekend — the Victoria Day long weekend — the pool opened for the summer, albeit with very strict COVID protocols in place.

Our first swim was on opening day, Saturday, a very different experience than today’s swim! Opening day was warm (about 16C) and sunny with clear blue skies, and today it was 11C and raining.  But the water was warm and the swim was great, and I even managed one more lap than my previous swim! 

I must admit that as we stood in line to enter the pool, I wondered if we had made a mistake in coming. It was necessary to pre-book a slot a few days ahead, with no idea of how the weather would be. We woke up to the dark cool skies and rainfall that was getting stronger by the minute. When we arrived at the pool, the air was so cool that the pool appeared to be steaming, the condensation rising as a light mist from the surface.

Did I really want to swim in the rain? Growing up in Toronto, I had always associated the rain with thunder and lightening, and we rarely went for a swim in those conditions. As soon as it rained, the lifeguards would tell us to get out of the pool! But here in Vancouver, that type of storm is relatively rare. Does it rain? Yes, absolutely, but most often without the risk of lightening.

And getting out of a lovely warm pool into a constant drizzle is not the most pleasant experience. I could feel my resistance increasing, but I do love to swim — so meditative, with its rhythmic strokes — so put aside my concerns and joined the entrance line.

I enjoyed my swim, and there were a few magical moments and life lessons!

As we entered the pool, several people entered from a gate reserved for folks with mobility challenges and aids (many of them seniors / elders), families with strollers, etc. I felt somewhat humbled, worrying about the rain when they had showed up despite the cool weather and rain. And it was lovely to connect with other swimmers, all dedicated to being there no matter the circumstances.

In the shallow end, just before I began my laps, I saw two senior woman approaching, edging along the rim of the pool, one leading the other (one’s hands resting on her friend’s shoulders as she was guided through the water). I said hello and something about it being much warmer in the pool, shame about the rain, etc. The woman holding her friend’s shoulders said, “I don’t care, it’s a great first day for me. I’ve been waiting all winter for this!” 

Her smile easily affirmed that was true! Humbled, once again. It’s all in the attitude. Any day can be a good day.

As I looked towards the far end of the pool (135m / 150 yards away), now barely visible as the mist grew stronger, I longed for my camera! I watched the other swimmers begin their laps, and all I could see through that surface mist was their arms rhythmically cutting and splashing as they swam away from me. That image stays with me… it was like a dance, a water ballet, so rhythmic and elegant. Pure magic! 

Was there a lesson for me today?

There were definitely several reminders: to stay present and be in the moment; to not project anything onto an experience, to just let it unfold; to expect the unexpected; and to recognize the grace and beauty and strength around us. And, yes, any day can be a good day! It’s all in our attitude.

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