Wow. So where do I start?!
I never really pay much attention to how healthy feels until healthy wanes. I’ve been a little under the weather as of late and was finally able to get some spirit back in my bones today and am just so thankful for health and wellness and doctors!
Talking about health and wellness, when my family and I moved to Placerville, CA, my first real friend and neighbor was an avid swimmer. Summer came around and she and her mom asked if I would be interested in joining the swim team. I LOVED the water and growing up in Singapore, my mom made sure I had my swimming lessons so I was just beyond ecstatic. I remember seeing some of the other girls racing in the pool during my lessons and being so jealous at how fast they glided in the water.
Then the first day of practice came around…It was one of the hardest things I had ever done in my life!!!! I realized, very quickly, that I sank better than I swam. Had it not been for my friend, I might have never swam again, that and the fact that on the Dry Diggin’s Dolphins we were graced with coaches that really cared and knew what they were doing, including completely reteaching me to how to swim. They were scary as hell but they cared. I remember seeing the head coaches tanned sculpted calves every time I came to the end of a drill cowering in fear of what she was gonna make us do next!
After that first season, I grew to love the burn in my lungs after a ladder drill, and really craved the weird sensation of being steaming hot in a cold swimming pool. I loved my speedo tan, and slowly made my way up the heats and less 8th place ribbons started appearing in my folder, in fact I had EVEN had some pretty blue 1st place ribbons sometimes.
Once I got to high school, I thought that other sports were so much “cooler” and “in” than swimming. Afterall, who at 13 wants to wake up at 5AM for a freezing morning swim only to get back at the pool right after school, snow, rain or shine. I packed away my swimsuit, cap and goggles through high school but every summer, something seemed to be missing.
As an adult, the one sport that has always comes back to me is swimming. I never found much clarity in running, and though I biked a lot as a child too, the burn of an uphill climb in the mountainous foothills really didn’t provide me with as much gratification as swimming a cpl miles in the pool. Counting my breath, and adding up my laps was my meditation.
In every country I have lived in, I have sought out the nearest pool. My speedo, cap and goggles are always on the packing list. In college, the pool was always open during my breaks, Ghana was tough, I never did find one, and therefore I came home a chunk. Singapore was great, as my grandparents lived in a condominium with a huge one, and Paris turned out to be fantastic because every arrondissement had one if not two public piscines, and though their swimming culture was very different, I was swimming.
Fast forward to now! If there is one thing that Jakarta is, its HOT! It’s hot and polluted, and incredibly crowded. Running has never been my friend, though I oblige, we will always be at war. Just when I was starting to feel like my yoga was not enough, guess who comes creeping back to me? swimming as always; the speedos, my pink swimming cap, and goggles never fail to remind me why it’s ok that I have such wide shoulders and big feet for a girl of only 5′ 3″.
It took Ross and me months to find this pool. A lot of the more well off people and expats live in apartments here that have their own pools, but Ross and I opted for a quiet neighborhood so we didn’t get that luxury, though we have others :) And Ross’ stipulation for any swimming event is, “Can I jump off something?” So when we finally found it, located it, I mean, it was heaven!
Situated in a very urban area is Gelora Bung Karno Sports Complex. It’s HUGE. Wanna play….anything? Baseball, Golf, Swimming, Running, Track, Soccer Stadium, Convention Hall.
As are/were many things in Jakarta, it was built with a lot of hope and intention and continues to run but truly by the skin of it’s teeth. I must say that as little attention as the complex seems to get in terms of repair and beautification, it is certainly a hub of activity. Concerts, art exhibits, BMW car show, massive soccer games, you name it, it’s there.
So back to the pool, it’s not the Ritz Carlton but for what it’s worth it has charm, and the water is clear, chlorinated, and clean. I still reserve my shower for home but for my simple needs of swimming back and forth in a pool 50m long, it fits. I spoke to a gentleman that noticed me taking some pictures and he told me that the pool was a fixture in his life. That in the last 25 years nothing had changed. The kitschy blue and mustard tiles, the teal walls, faded bleachers, it was all the same. Though they hosted the 2007 Asian Games here, the swimming complex doesn’t look like it has changed much since 1960 when it was first built. It made me love the pool even more! (You will soon see my love for old things, Jakarta has so much to offer!)
During the evening hours (after 4pm), the pool is closed to the public for swim team trainings but during the day (8am-4pm) it’s open to the public for 20,000 rp per person. There are several pools in addition to the main Olympic sized pool. A diving board with several heights whose pool serves as a training place for a lot of avid scuba student. I also met a swimming coach who conducts private and group swimming lessons for kids and triathletes. He even threw in some tips to help me with my stroke!
I love that this pool has so much history and holds so many memories. Think of all it has seen Jakarta go through and now from the high dive you can see the city in its rapidly growing, chaotic, grandeur.
I am so happy to make it a part of my life, a healthy one! So when I am done with my antibiotics and healthy, hearty Gabbie is back to 100% you will find this little fishy HERE!
Oh, and here’s something to make you laugh a little by my personal photographer, Ross Mytton. The perfect combination: yoga AND swimming.