I enter into the humidity of an indoor pool and find the races have just started. The students, each coupled with an aide, are already bobbing in the water, floatation devices strapped to their backs. She sees me, eventually, across the expanse of blue and splashes in some version of a doggy paddle to get closer. I see it in her eyes — the moment she knows I'm here — but my wave and smile are not returned.
It is Olympic week at her school, just as there are "track and field days" for my other three. CB's school does it up "big." There are t-shirts made, opening and closing ceremonies, the running of the torch, a week of events and actual trophies for taking "the gold." Olympic week is big stuff, but it seems pretty much off of CB's radar. If anything, it's disrupting her normal routine. Nevertheless, she loves swimming. More importantly, I can see she's glad I'm here.
She wants to get out and get to me, but is coaxed into lining up with her peers for her "heat" — a swim across the shorter width of the pool. Rella and I cheer for her at the opposite wall along with an enthusiastic staff. The boy who wins is filled with glee just to be swimming. CB touches the wall second with a casual indifference, registering no emotion about the competition aspect. She just wants to climb out of the pool, though isn't strong enough to pull herself up.
She is escorted to the pool steps and slowly ascends — dripping and chilled, drenched in chlorine. Her sudden smile could light a galaxy. I'm embraced in a wet hug.