I've been swimming at the local county pool since before my children were born. It's good exercise, but for lap swimmers it's rather solitary, which suits me fine. I want to go, get in my mile, and head to work. I use the time to let my mind wander as I go back and forth across the pool; I sort out problems or come up with new ideas to make the time seem more productive.
The other half of the pool not sectioned off into lanes by ropes is the social side. It's where the aqua-aerobics people meet in the mornings, and kids play in the afternoons. The people over there chat as they are led through different routines.
There is a core group of regulars at the pool in the morning. The aqua-aerobics classes are mostly women, and lap swimmers tend to be men, although there are obviously exceptions. Few people cross from one side to the other. Everyone recognizes who goes where.
Here is the thing I've been thinking about lately as I cross the pool 64 times in a row: When we think of people in our lives, we think of friends, family, colleagues, and acquaintances. We don't think as often of the vast number of people who populate our days whom we recognize but can't even name.