Nautical or nice, give me a lap pool |

Nautical or nice, give me a lap pool

Mike Drummond, Columnist
ALL | GrassValleyArchive

My wish list for Santa is short this year: an in-ground, swim-in-place lap pool, please. This is the aquatic equivalent of a treadmill. The pool is small, only four feet deep, eight feet wide and twice as long. The idea is to swim against an artificially generated current calibrated in nautical knots.

Nautical or nice, Santa will work up a sweat delivering the pool – even if it is empty. And I need more exercise. Swimming is the perfect exercise form, and a swim-in-place pool is the perfect forum for a low-impact workout.

If I were a fish. You rarely see a fish bonking his head on the side of the aquarium. Me in a small pool, I’m not so sure. Especially if my mind is adrift when the power goes out and I surge forward against a now nonexistent current. I’d emerge from my swim as gnarled as a salmon who made it to the spawning grounds. (Not that I’d ever do anything like THAT in my pool!)

And even if Santa comes through, I’ll be the one with a huge Visa bill for our new hole in the ground. I know that each February, the dump is filled with discarded exercise equipment. The minimum monthly payments will persist much longer than any New Year’s resolution in the history of mankind.

I decided to test my abilities first, by swimming upstream in a real stream: our very own Clear Creek. After a heavy rain, the “clear” waters run the color of a mocha latte. Still, this seasonal creek races along nicely.

And icily. My feet were numb before I’d waded in up to my waist. December is not Speedo and swimming goggles weather here at Clear Creek Ranch. My wife insists there is NO appropriate weather for me when it comes to wearing my Speedo. Our full-length mirror seems to agree.

As I thawed out, one thing bothered me – swimming in place. All that activity and never getting anywhere. It seemed like a metaphor for life here on the ranch – futility.

As I shivered, I daydreamed about chivalry, feudality, knights of the Round Table, and how my metaphor might be an allegory, although definitely not a simile. I’d be like The Laddie in the Lake if I tried swimming in a suit of armor. (That’s a simile – I think.)

Still, some sort of protective head gear would be nice. And underwater headphones so I could dog paddle to nowhere while filling the vast untapped reaches of my brain with messages from inspirational tapes. (There are months when messages from creditors left on the answering machine can be motivation enough).

Then I thought about maintaining a new pool. Algaecide and bleach to add, and time spent scrubbing a king-sized bathtub ring. And keeping the pump in working order. If THAT happened, it would be the equivalent of me pulling the sword Excalibur from a stone. My poor rapport with all mechanical devices is legendary.

As is my penchant for “improving” things. Soon I’d be building an enclosure for the new pool. And deepening and lengthening the pool itself, adding a diving board, a water slide, a poolside cabana with wet bar, and some deck chairs for those apres dog paddling moments.

A place, in short, where I could contemplate the vagaries of credit card interest rates.

Do you suppose the Speedo folks make lounge wear? Something with an elastic waistband and a bit more room in the seat? I’ll ask Santa.

Mike Drummond is a Nevada County writer whose column appears on Tuesday. You can write him in care of The Union, 464 Sutton Way, Grass Valley, 95945; or e-mail him at

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