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Nathan Kitzmann column: A swimming good time

As I mentioned in one of my previous columns, I walk my dog with almost impeccable regularity. However, my parents decided mere dog walking will not suffice for my ninth grade physical education class, so they signed me up for swimming lessons.

I have just started swimming lessons, and I can honestly say it has been an interesting, but ultimately fulfilling experience. I usually show up for lessons about two hours early to allow time for both frolic in the pool, and more importantly, hot tub meditation.

The pool portion of my excursion usually goes along well enough, with little incident. Of course I get severely reprimanded by lifeguards every once in a while for "horseplay" and may run into the occasional lap swimmer, but other than that, I think I behave like a perfect gentleman.

After about 45 minutes of "horseplay" in the main swimming pool, I usually dash into the adjacent hot tub to spend the rest of my free time before my ominous swimming lessons begin.

Upon entering the Jacuzzi, I am usually greeted by at least two or three other people, all seeking to escape the frigidity of Minnesota winters. If there is a small child in the hot tub, I usually offer him or her the opportunity of listening to me talk.

Seemingly oblivious to the fact that hearing Nathan expound upon his various philosophies and political views is not a chance to be missed, the children I attempt to enlighten do nothing but act like I am speaking hogwash, or ignore me altogether.

"Kid's these days," I usually mutter to myself when disregarded by a young person, before trying my hand at talking to another patronizer of the hot tub. After greeting him with a hearty "hello," I then launch into a conversation with this character.

The combination of intense heat and prolonged exposure to chlorine can tend to affect the mind, so after a time of sitting in the Jacuzzi, I am transported to my imaginary, but nonetheless desirable, Happy Place. Where you don't grow old and it never gets cold, and what to do you are, um, never told.

After a short time, I, through my Happy Place of blue skies and sunshine, faintly hear my swimming instructor, in a low-pitched, distorted, extremely slow voice, cry out "level six!" which means that my time has come.

During this time, I am in a bit of a dilemma, knowing that I must leave the hot tub both for the sake of my health and to receive instruction in the art of swimming, but am very reluctant to do so. Still partially in my Happy Place, I stumble over to the main pool and jump in.

Suddenly I am given a tremendous jolt of reality, and I am back in frigid northern Minnesota, standing chest-deep in a cold swimming pool and waiting for the orders.

During my lesson, I practice many different strokes and maneuvers, all of which I am rather clumsy in doing, and watch with amazement as my instructor performs them with the greatest of ease.

After the lesson is complete, I thank the teacher for her services, and dash into one of the men's locker room's many showers. As for the men's locker room, I will comment no more (as this is a family column) only to say that most of its patrons seem to be quite confident with themselves.

Although I have thus far given them negative connotations, swimming lessons have actually helped me physically develop myself in ways that would not be possible by merely walking my dog every day. Nothing comes close to swimming in terms of energy burn, muscle development and enjoyment.

But my favorite part of swimming is the fact that no matter how long you do it, it will never give you the heinous stench of body odor other exercises do. While running on a treadmill for half an hour will make everyone around you gag, swimming for twice that long will only make you smell like chlorine, which is not nearly as offensive as sweat.

The choice is yours, stink or swim. As for me, I think I'll swim.

Nathan Kitzmann is a freshman and is homeschooled.