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Lessons Learned at the Swimming Pool

Popularity 5Viewed 6000 times 2014-3-18 05:29 |Personal category:daily life|System category:Life| Lesson, from, the, Swimming, Pool

Our first routine after moving from America to Dalian, China, was to go to a swimming pool twice a week. My husband, who was spending hours each week at a desk, wanted the exercise. Because I’m disabled and stuck in a wheelchair, I needed a pool.

Over these last seven years, much of what I’ve learned about China has been introduced by that pool, both by the place itself and by the other swimmers. The place and the people have provided a sharp and pleasant contrast to life in the U.S.

I’ve learned that China is a nation of contradictions. Moving beyond its agricultural past, modern China values pomp: a uniformed guard stands at the entrance to the pool building. The lobby is enormous and decorated with statues and a koi pond. The pool itself is indoor, Olympic-sized with heated salt water and gilded murals on the walls. Even pool-happy California wouldn’t have such extravagance.

 I worried how I’d get out of my wheelchair and into the water. But I needn’t have worried. China may not have laws requiring accessibility, but what China does have is people power. Gracious staff lift me in and out of the pool. That was my first lesson: perhaps self-reliance is overrated. Being able to do something on my own isn’t necessary if people are willing to help. 

The same held true for the front door of the building. Stairs. In Dalian even the smallest building has at least two or three steps. But there again, staff hurried to lift my chair. In a few months they had built a ramp.

Middle-aged Chinese women remind me of the stereotypical Jewish mama: inquisitive, opinionated and a bit smothering. They stand in the pool or the locker room having animated conversations as they stare at me and pepper my attendant with suggestions for treatments which they’re sure will help me to walk. Women ask my age and label me beautiful—because of the novelty of brown hair and blue eyes. In fact, probably I am the only older Anglo woman in a wheelchair living in Dalian!

There have been many other lessons learned at the pool, such as the fact that Chinese take excessively long showers with handfuls of soap. Bathing suits and caps are examples of what my husband calls the cuteness of China.

But the most basic lesson for me is that it’s sort of nice to have achieved uniqueness without effort.

(Opinions of the writer in this blog don't represent those of China Daily.)




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Comment Comment (6 comments)

Reply Report voice_cd 2014-3-18 16:53
Dear Huebie, Thanks for sharing your story here. and we have highlighted your blog onto the homepage.
BTW, one suggestion for you, you better put the headline or title into the first blank, not with the body part like you did right now.
Reply Report voice_cd 2014-3-18 17:28
BTW, please send us email at or private message here to tell us your real name, which city are you living in China now if you want to join the blog contest. Thanks
Reply Report olivia-88116 2014-3-18 21:14
hhh  life in different place wil give you different experience ;don't think about lot ,just enjoy it
Reply Report cherry0227 2014-3-19 02:14
Thank you for sharing your special story .I like your optimistic about life and the thoughts about learning.We can learn a lot during the daily time.I'm not so good at English i wish you can know what i mean. Thank you.Wish you have a good day.
Reply Report ColinSpeakman 2014-3-19 14:44
A nice story! I enjoyed reading it!
Reply Report jdorist 2014-3-25 08:45
Carol - How awesome is this?? You have your own blog!! Outstanding! I don't have a clue as to how to "highlight your blog to my homepage." But I am hoping that, each time you send it out, it will show up somehow on my computer. Lessons as to how to save your writings would be much appreciated (to all the other readers out there). You have so much to share about your life in Dalian. This is a wonderful idea!!!

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  • What is sexy? 2014-8-27 12:21

    be yourself ,be happy ,be natural,be passionate..........................

  • Victory 2014-8-22 11:15

    Best I can tell, the tradition started in 1985 when football player Harry Carson dumped a cooler full of iced Gatorade on Coach Bill Parson's head. He was persuaded to do so by team member Jim Burt, who was angry at the coach for treating him badly. Carson was a favorite of the coach's and thus would (probably) not get in trouble.  
    Another story has it that Chicago Bears Dan Hampton dowsed Mike Ditka after clinching the NFC Central title in 1984.
    The practice gained national attention in 1986
    NOTE: although it started out with a cooler full of Gatorade (a sports drink, for those who don't know), these days, many teams just use ice-water.
    I hope that helps!

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