I didn’t pay them much attention. They looked unsure about the small changing shed attached to the public toilets. Her lycra bathing suit was unfair to her shape. He was pale. They paused at the water’s edge, then carefully stepped in.
I’d never thought about swimming in Lake Burley Griffin, in the middle of Canberra. Man made by damming a creek. Closed when the algae become toxic. Plagued with carp. Sad little beaches hemmed in by slimy stones.
But as Jo and I sat on the park bench–me thinking about work, families, and side-effects–they swum out around the triathlon training buoys. Calm. The water was pale, mirror-blue. Tiny ripples turned the reflections of trees with yellow flowers into brush strokes. He swam perfectly: noticeably smooth and fast. She wasn’t far behind. At the pace they were going there must have been tightness in their lungs, and aching in their arms. But from where we watched there was nothing except easy forward motion. They swum round the first buoy, then the second, taking maybe twenty minutes before returning to the lake’s edge. Nothing awkward or uncertain now. They both had the muscles of swimmers, and that done-something, after exercise glow. We got back on our bikes, me doing a better job for a while of watching, not thinking.