august 21/SWIM

5.5 loops (5 big + 3 little)
lake nokomis open swim
68 degrees
9:45 am

Mission accomplished! Today, I was the last one off of the course. I had been planning to swim the entire 2 hours, but the lifeguards started late (staffing problems), so I didn’t get going across the lake until almost 10. Before the buoys were out, I swam 3 little loops around the white buoys. The water! So wonderful: calm, buoyant, not too hot or cold. Perfect conditions for swimming for 110 minutes.

This swim was a highlight of the summer. I felt strong and fast and confident. I never doubted myself — what I was doing or where I was going. I think I wrote about this last year (or a few years ago?). When I am swimming I don’t question what I’m doing, or wonder whether I should be doing it some other way. I don’t feel judged, by me or anyone else. I mostly feel this way when I’m running too, but not as intensely as when I’m in the water swimming. I would like to find this feeling in other things, but right now, swimming is enough.

10 Things I Noticed

  1. swans (boats), off to my right, 2 or 3 in a line, going the same speed as me
  2. later, a lone swan (boat) to my left, right by the far green buoy
  3. a few vines, passing over my arm
  4. the middle green buoy was flopping over to one side — did they forget to inflate it all the way, or does it have a leak?
  5. blue sky with a few streaks of clouds, bright sun
  6. a few birds — seagulls? geese? — above me, their wings spread wide
  7. a military plane, rumbling
  8. extremely cold pockets of water — so cold! It felt like swimming through ice water. Instant goosebumps
  9. felt extra buoyant and high on the water — no problems breathing to my left
  10. on the last loop (I started it at 11:10), I felt like I was the only one in the water. I stopped briefly to check: silence. Such a cool feeling to be out there alone

a few things to put in a poem, or poems

  • the joy of swimming fast, past other swimmers
  • the irritation of another swimmer pushing me off course
  • the image of pink disembodied heads bobbing in the water
  • feeling slightly competitive, wanting to be one of the fastest (I usually am), but also wanting faster swimmers to hurry up and get past me so I can be alone in the water again
  • the dreamy state I felt after getting out to go to the bathroom and returning to the water — almost like my body had dissolved into the lake
  • my feet, acting as rudders
  • when a green buoy lines up just right with the white sails of the boats just beyond it (which seems to happen a lot), I lose the color — the green is gone

I found this poem on twitter yesterday:

A Drink of Water/ Jeffrey Harrison

When my nineteen-year-old son turns on the kitchen tap
and leans down over the sink and tilts his head sideways
to drink directly from the stream of cool water,
I think of my older brother, now almost ten years gone,
who used to do the same thing at that age;

And when he lifts his head back up and, satisfied,
wipes the water dripping from his cheek
with his shirtsleeve, it’s the same casual gesture
my brother used to make; and I don’t tell him
to use a glass, the way our father told my brother,

because I like remembering my brother
when he was young, decades before anything
went wrong, and I like the way my son
becomes a little more my brother for a moment
through this small habit born of a simple need,

which, natural and unprompted, ties them together
across the bounds of death, and across time . . .
as if the clear stream flowed between two worlds
and entered this one through the kitchen faucet,
my son and brother drinking the same water.

I love this poem and the idea of gestures/acts/habits getting passed on, serving as reminders and connections.