The Swimmer

The Swimmer Imagery

Masculinity Through Swimming

The narrator describes Neddy's method of swimming in great detail. swam “a choppy crawl," which was not “a serviceable stroke for long distances”—but in Neddy's part of the world, “a crawl was customary.” According to Neddy, swimming in this way is akin to the natural state of things, and he loves “to be embraced and sustained by the light green water.” Part of this natural order is the act of jumping straight into the pool rather than walking in. In fact, Neddy views this swimming technique as central to his masculinity, viewing men who do otherwise with "inexplicable contempt."

Neglect and Decay

Neddy is surprised to find Lindleys’ riding ring “overgrown with grass” and “all the jumps dismantled.” He cannot remember if they had gone away for the summer or sold their horses, although he has the vague memory of hearing something. Next, he discovers that the Welchers' pool is dry. The imagery of abandonment is strong here: the narrator writes that the pool furniture is "folded, stacked, and covered with a tarpaulin." All the windows are shut, the bathhouse is locked, and there is even that emblematic sign of misfortune: a forlorn "For Sale" sign nailed to a tree. Combined with a melancholy image of red and yellow leaves drifting from a maple tree, blanketing the yard and pool, this imagery of suburban decay is central to "The Swimmer."