Anyong! Lindsay here.
Yesterday I went swimming for the first time in Korea. And when I say swimming I mean swimming laps in an indoor pool. Something I haven’t done in at least a year. Possibly two.
But since I somehow got talked into buying a lap-swimming bathing suit, swimming cap and goggles by a nice Korean woman in the local Lotte Mart, I figured I better use them. Especially since I could have bought many more practical things with that money. Oh, and on a funny note, Whit also got a new swimsuit. One that would certainly garner looks at home for the small amount of his body it actually covers.
So with our new swim gear, we headed to a nearby pool. I was nervous, to say the least. I’m not sure why. But whenever you try something new here, you’re usually the only foreigner. And when you’re the only foreigner..and you’re in a swimsuit..that gives them even more to look at. Needless to say. I don’t like being looked at with clothes on. Much less a Speedo.
At first I thought I was going to get out of the swim. Small kids were taking up every lane with their afternoon lessons when we first got there. Well. Too bad. Maybe next time, I told Whit. He wasn’t so ready to give up.
We soon found out that we could swim in just a few minutes when the kids finished. So we payed our $3 and headed to the lockers, where a hush swept over the room as I entered. A few girls whispered, “O-ma!!! Migukin!” All eyes were on me as I stripped down into my bathing suit and rinsed off in the public showers.
I met Whit out in the pool where a nice older man pointed at a lane we could get in. We jumped in and started swimming laps. There was only one or two other people in the pool. This was good I thought, as my arms took their first strokes of freestyle in what seemed like years. I even did a flipturn at the end it felt so good.
Then I heard the whistle. Oh crap. I hate the whistle. Being a former lifeguard, I know the whistle. I look up. A Korean woman is telling me to get out.
Whit and I get out and join the group of about 50 people standing around in Speedos. The same woman starts blowing the whistle to the rhythm of people stretching.
All of a sudden we are stretching. To the left. To the right. Arms over head. Arms to the side. Touch your toes.
I do not like this. Not because we are the only white people and are garnering stares as if we are leading the stretches, but because we are the only white people doing stretches. IN A SPEEDO. Can we say uncomfortable?!?
They begin to lift their knees to their chests. Whit follows suit. He looks at me. I solemnly, adamantly shake my head back and forth. No. No. No. Not in a Speedo.
Then they start doing jumping jacks. In Speedos. At this point I just stop completely. I don’t even pretend to play their stretching in Speedos game anymore.
A few minutes later, we are released back into the pool to swim our laps in one lane, which we share with about five or six people. Including one man who simply pushes off the wall and floats. From one end to the other, he does the Dead Man’s Float, causing the rest of us to have to swim around him and then usually run into the person swimming the opposite direction.
While my first swimming experience wasn’t without a few bumps in the road, I will say I will do it again. Not the jumping jacks in my Speedo part. But the lap swimming. Yes. I will do it again.