A Thanksgiving swim


It's Thanksgiving here in Canada, which usually means turkey and stuffing (my favourite) and mashed potatoes. But it's hot and sunny and we're having Thanksgiving brunch (aka croissants instead of turkey) this year instead.

As I was swimming today, I was reflecting on all that I have to be thankful for—my wonderful little family; my body that brought my daughter into the world earlier this year; Toronto's pools, the coffee I drank this morning with my love in a post-hike parking lot; the words I get to write; the sleep that sometimes happens, and sometimes doesn't; my dear, dear friends, old and new, who fill my heart and my days with such kindness and grace and hilarity (and chips); watching my kid and his cousin yell "I love you/I love you too" as they said goodbye tonight under a pink-orange sky; the brilliant swimmers I've met through this blog; and my brilliant, radiant, inspiring swimming ladies, who keep me grounded and remind me to breathe and swim and make things. My swimming pals who understand the healing power of water. We are joined by this love of lakes and pools and ponds and rivers. It buoys my heart daily.


To swimming friends and all of our adventures ahead...
  • Lindsay
  • Sunday, October 8, 2017

Grown-up Swimming Badges: Part Three



Summer has returned, at least in weather form, though the outdoor pools are depressingly empty. Those pale blue painted bottoms, water-less, fill me with a deep sadness. I wish I was exaggerating, but I am not. 

But before fall takes hold and the heat and the humidity disappear, it's time to commemorate the Summer 2017. Here are this year's grown-up swimming badges:

Rhya got one for her summer of incredibly cold swims. Seriously, there were no temperatures too low to keep this one from swimming this summer. (Maybe it was this dip that inspired her non-stop chilly swimming?!)

Laura got the Most Incredible Bathing Costume Badge for her 70s-tastic Charlie's Angels wetsuit that started off the summer swimming season.

Patrice got her Newfoundland Swimming Holes badge for some epic east coast dips (including one at La Manche, one of my very favourite Newfoundland dips!)

And I got a badge to commemorate The Fouling - the cocktail invented to commemorate the most depressing, and in retrospect hilarious swimming day I had all summer...

Farewell Summer 2017! You were fickle and chilly, but still carried memorable dips...

Past badges:
  • Lindsay
  • Monday, September 18, 2017

Summer 2017: The swimming highlight reel


It's been a strange summer for swimming – so many thunderstorms, and chilly days (not a single Extreme Heat Alert to keep the pools open till midnight this year!). There were foulings (the only good part of that was the delicious cocktail created to commemorate it!), thunderstorm-thwarted swims, and small windows between feeding my baby. The (only?) good part about the frigid fall temperatures was that I often got a full lane to myself for much of August.



I did succeed in writing about swimming every single day (!) the outdoor pools were open this summer, which made even the swim-less days manageable, and I swam a lot this last month – gracious friends and family watching my baby while I got a swim in. I even read on the deck twice –  not usually a rare occurrence in the summers but with small windows (babies!) and frigid temperatures (brrrr!).

I watched four Harvards dive and split off and re-find each other during my penultimate swim at Sunnyside, and thought a lot about my Papa Doug who used to fly Harvards and my very last swim of the season was pretty anticlimactic, a cold, fast swim under a grey sky. Definitely a whisper, not a bang.

But amidst the chilly, utilitarian swims, there were some stand out gems this summer:

1). After a long swimming drought, I got this text from my brother-in-law:

And so, he wore my 4.5-month-old baby and pushed his 4.5-month-old baby in a stroller up and down the boardwalk and my sister and I got to swim together. We had the fast lane to ourselves and the sun shone and it was glorious. Truly one of the best swims of the summer.

2). A Sunnyside swim where, mid-swim, a Great Blue heron flew over the pool, its neck folded over itself, its wings enormous, reaching. It was spectacular.



3). Another Sunnyside dip close to the end of August in which the air above the pool was filled with the darting, meandering flights of monarch butterflies. I lost track after I hit 30!



4). The deep end dip and interlock brick deck hang I wrote about here. I'm still thinking about that 1980s oasis of a pool and can't wait to make it back next summer for the 50m length swim.

5). My happy hour swim up at a cottage.


Even with the chilly swims and the numb fingers, I already miss swimming outside. My indoor bag is packed – farewell, sunscreen, sunglasses and bikini. I already can't wait for next summer...
  • Lindsay
  • Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Waterside Sketching



All summer long I’ve been traveling from one watering hole to another, with my daughter by my side and a sketchbook in tow, repeating what I am calling 'A Waterside Sketchfest' at every swimming hole we hit!

  • Swim, sketch, swim - repeat!

This has been a winning routine for me and my girl, and I have to say for the reluctant swimmer, which my daughter is, sketching is a great in between "dip" activity, (I use the term "dip" loosely, as with my little bean, it's more a "flash of water" and then out!) And best of all, me and my kid, and whoever joins us waterside, get to collaborate creatively!

So here are the keys to hosting your own successful Waterside Sketchfest:

1. Ziplock bag of markers, pens, pencils… or anything that makes a mark on a page. Next year, I’m hoping to be brave enough to bring some watercolours… then I’ll be able to write a "Waterside Watercolours" post! Fun Fact: Crayola markers run like watercolours when they get wet! Super cool effect.
2. A sketch book that is not so precious… because it’s going to get wet! You are waterside… it's kind of a guarantee that your pages will end up waterlogged and soggy. But water splotches can add some unpredictable beauty to your work!
3. Snacks –totally unrelated– but totally awesome!
4. Comfy towels to sketch on!
5. Oh and a beach umbrella if in full sun... and lots of suncreen!

*Small side note, might I also recommend some waterside stitching... and even though your sunscreened fingers may fumble and slip with the hand sewing needles, and you will probably get sand under your applique... it's totally worth it!

We’ve also been lucky to be have some pretty awesome guest stars on our swimming/sketching adventures, I’m talking about you Auntie Jo, Lo, and Meena-Mo!

Here are a few of the fun poolside/bayside collaborations we've had over this summer, and the bodies of water that inspired them:

The Alex Duff Eclipse Art!
Joined by our good friend Jo, we hit up the Alex Duff outdoor pool in Christie Pitts and sat on our beach towels sketching water spirits, and eclipse inspired characters! Then we bobbed about in the kiddie pool, one of four pools at this SUPER kid friendly outdoor oasis here in Toronto. I seriously love this pool!
Also... saddest pedicure ever... this is what happens when you paint your nails, two seconds before heading to the pool on your bike. DOH!

The Giovanni Caboto Poolside Summer Memory Map

Just last weekend Nomi and I dared to dip during another cold snap, something that we've been getting very used to this summer. We hit up our local outdoor pool, the Givovanni Caboto, which I've definitely mentioned once or twice on this blog. The water was so warm, but MAN it was cold when you got out.

Bundled up in our towels we put our heads together and sketched out this scene, a "mapshot of our summer", including the adorable wading pool up the street from us that we've never been able to get to when it's open and full, but have spent many a night running around in its empty state under a setting sun.

Nomi also snacked on KD... pretty sure that is a certified swim snack, but I'll need a few other of my swimmers to weigh in on that.

Wasaga Beach In Blue

For this Sketchfest, we were joined by fellow swimmer Lady Lo. We took off on a rare hot and sunny Sunday this August, for a road trip to one of my favourite Ontario beaches, Wasaga (you can read Laura's amazing recap of our day here!) Nomi and I collaborated on a large beach scene which essentially just turned into a page of blue crayola marker... but it felt on point...

...because when you are at Wasaga looking out at that beast of water, all you see is blue! Lo, also did one of her patented stone doilies.

And I have to feature the snacks from this trip... because they were off the hook!

Stitching at Shebeshekong Bay

This picture says it all. Traveling sewing studio for the win! This is one of my many returns to Shebeshekong Bay this summer, visiting my dear friend's cottage. And that classic Aperol Spritzer would be my Docktail selection for this summer, if we hadn't already crowned it one of the official Docktails of 2015.

Finally, I leave without mentioning the Shebeshekong tannin rich water, which is out of sight: "Like swimming in silk!"

Meaford's Loose Threads
I'll be following this post up with one fully dedicated to the beautiful beaches we found in Meaford  in early August. Absolutely stunning water scenes!

But here is a small sneak peek at where I sat and sewed beachside until someone had to drag me away! I was so inspired that weekend, and below is my attempt to stitch my state of water full-mind.

In conclusion, bring a sketchbook along for the swim, or really whatever creative project you have on the go, or that you can risk getting wet. Who knows what will come out of your waterside musings? I suggest getting out there and finding out!


  • Rhya
  • Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Summer's last gasp: Smythe Park Pool







There is only one week of outdoor pool swimming left in Toronto (gasp! sob!) but I have found a brilliant gem of a pool in which to spend the next seven days: Smythe Park Pool.


My winter fast lane pal tipped me off about this quiet, west end 50m pool, but it took me until now to check it out. Pro-tip: Don't listen to Google maps, you have to enter in off of Scarlett Rd, then take the winding road in. It'll feel like you're in the middle of nowhere, but it's coming, I promise.



And just like that, it appears in all of its chlorinated glory. It is 50m of perfect turquoise chaos, the shallow end packed with frozen tag and cannon balls, the deep end nearly empty, a tinny radio set out near the staff room blasting "Karma Chameleon." I felt like I had time-warped back to the mid-80s, where I idolized my swim teachers and learned to stride jump in the deep end.  The sun presses hot against the HUGE, expansive interlock brick deck (perhaps the most generous deck I've seen in any City of Toronto pool!)



There's a length swim from 7-7:55 every evening – 50 whole metres of swimming before turning around – but a baby + a toddler + bedtime make that impossible this year. (NEXT SUMMER!!)

And, if that wasn't enough, next to the 50m pool is a shallow kiddie pool, and beside all of it, is a playground AND a splash pad.

Note: there aren't any lockers, and you have to leave your bag outside the deck. There did seem to be a staffed coat check-esque area, but no one was working there when I was swimming...

Hours and exact location here!

P.S.: Shawn Micallef's brilliant ode to summer swimming in Toronto. Get thee to the water!!

  • Lindsay
  • Monday, August 28, 2017

A happy hour swim


I swam after dinner in a corridor of sunlight.

The lake was black, but not forboding, and the loons had disappeared – two paddled beyond the point and the other flew to join them, its solid bones making it impossible to get airborne until the thwack of feathers on water stopped and suddenly it was possible, so I didn't have to worry about them diving under me (yes, that is my lake swimming fear!)

The top layer of the water was bright with sun, my arms gold-green. One-two-three-breath, with a view of the trees on the far side of the lake. I swam for five, six, seven cottages, counting the docks and the tethered boats.

When I turned around, the sun was what traffic reporters warn highway commuters about this time of year – the sun low and directly in my eyes, a blinding light.

I swam without knowing where I was swimming, and kept on until the dock appeared, with the docktails and the happy hour (the happiest hour, really).


It took me forever to warm up afterwards and I wore all the clothes I packed...but it was the most glorious lake swim of the summer.

  • Lindsay
  • Monday, August 28, 2017

Wasaga Beach: Learning the Pro Tips


I had never been to Wasaga Beach, even though it's a short road trip from Toronto. Its reputation as the Daytona Beach of the North kind of kept me away.

But winter is coming. And I needed a swim.

And luckily, so did my co-swimmer Rhya, who having grown up in Grey County, is a Wasaga Pro. We packed up my little car on Sunday morning with snacks and beach blankets and her kiddo, Nomi, and away we went.

I am now in *official* possession of the Pro-Tips, and she said it was okay if I shared them with you too. So here you go.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

#1: The Drive

Don't take the 400. Just don't. It always sucks, it's never as fast as you want it to be and there's a reaaaaaaalllllly pretty side-road drive that takes you through Ontario's stunning Greenbelt -- from Mono Hills up to Stayner. GORG.EOUS.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

#2. The Strip. AKA “Beach 1”


Rhya said I should see it, since I'd never been. She said it in that “this-is-going-to-be-a-test-of-your-basic-human-abilities” kind of way that made me feel like I was about to cliff-dive into one of the Dangerous Wonders of the World and we'd see if I made it out alive or not.

We lasted 20 minutes.

The word that comes to mind when I think of that stretch of Wasaga Beach is CHAOS.

It was wall-to-wall people and EVERY SINGLE PERSON had their own umbrella, inflatable unicorn floatie, picnic cooler, lawn chair, frisbee, portable barbecue, musical device, beach towel and loud motorcycle.

When I think of beautiful beach umbrella scenes, I think of this instagram photographer I love who flies over the ordered, uniform, highly glamorous Italian beaches... Wasaga is not that. (CHAOS.)

But whatever, it was a spectacle worth 20 minutes of my life, and I was more than happy when Rhya and I looked at each other and said “OK! Let's move on!”

(*I also do want to acknowledge that, within the chaos, the wonderful wonderful melting pot of cultures that Ontario is famous for was on full display, and I once again felt so grateful to be shoulder-to-shoulder with my fellow Canadians in our great land of freedom and acceptance.)

* * * * * * * * * * * *

#3. The Umbrella (Part 1)

The thing that The Strip was incredibly useful for was that we stopped and purchased a beach umbrella from one of the little shops. This is a Pro-Tip that you MUST pay attention to. You need an umbrella at Wasaga Beach!! Full stop.

You can also get yourself a Unicorn if you want. Put that one under Life Goals, if you must.



* * * * * * * * * * * *

#4. Far from the Madding Crowd: “Beach 3”

A short drive down the main street of Wasaga you can pop through the neighbourhoods of houses and old cottages and get to much, much quieter stretches of beach. Somewhere around 27th Street, in between Beach 3 and Beach 4, is the MAGIC.

Uncrowded sandy beaches to pitch your umbrella and unpack your picnic, and soft, blue-skied, sandbar-filled water as far as you can see. Warm, fresh, swimmable water. It is GLORIOUS. This was what I was hoping for.

*See the photo at the top of this post. This is what it's like.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

#5. The Sludge



I think it is actually technically, or maybe affectionately, known as "Beach Muck" by the locals, but one thing you need to know by heading over to the smaller Wasaga beaches is that they are not as regularly groomed as The Strip. This is a BIG BODY OF WATER. So a lot of sediment rolls in to the beach. It's black and slimey and mucky and gross. But don't despair! We just went for a short walk and found a stretch of beach that was perfectly great. You can walk right in, all sand, and the kiddos can play right at the water's edge, and it's all good.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

#6. The Umbrella (Part 2)

Once we were settled in at the new beach, we unpacked our beach blankets, our picnic, our sandcastle-building materials, and our sketchbooks and hunkered down for the afternoon.

I was so happy that I was in the SUN (after this summer of grey chilly days) that I regret to inform you I was extremely careless with my sunscreen. I *thought* I was safely parked under the umbrella, but that toasty warm feeling on my back was in fact a roasty, full-on screaming sunburn. I'm too embarrassed about it to show you. Trust me, it's a doozy. So the Pro-Tip here is: don't do that. Make sure you're covered, that's why you got the beach umbrella in the first place.



* * * * * * * * * * * *

#7. The Ice Cream

There's lots of it around. Have some.



* * * * * * * * * * * *
p.s. As we are headed into our final weeks of summer, if you need a swimming hole road trip guide for somewhere fun, check out my Harold Quarry guide, or Lindsay's Prince Edward County guide, or if you need a closer-to-home day trip, the Secret Grotto is a fun one too! Let me know if you go!






  • Laura
  • Wednesday, August 23, 2017

The summer of jumping in


Last summer, mid-way through July, I finally took the plunge (quite literally) and started jumping in instead of hanging off the dock ladder FOREVER before getting in... (cliff jumping, diving tower jumping, and just plain ol' joyful jumping...)

It's now been a full year and I'm officially a full-fledged JUMPER-INNER. I love it. LOVE IT. Everything about it. #cantstopwontstop





And I played the animal game where the person on the dock counts down from three and when you are mid-air yells the name of an animal you have to make in the air. (ps: BEST. GAME. EVER).

A snake:


I even tried a canon ball (though truth be told it's not my fav):



Here's to more jumps to round out the summer!

  • Lindsay
  • Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Swimlit: Gillian Best’s The Last Wave is a love letter to the sea


I don’t understand the sea. Not one bit. I grew up in my neighbourhood pool, and in Ontario lakes, and the thought of a shifting shoreline, not to mention undertows, is disorienting, terrifying even. I also can’t read a tide table to save my life. When I hiked the West Coast Trail at 18, I got caught not once, not twice, but three times on the beach with the tides coming in, scrambling up slippery ladders, soaked to my knees.

But if there’s anyone who could convince me of sea swimming, it’s Canadian-born, Bristol-based author Gillian Best. In her debut novel, The Last Wave, Martha, a devoted ocean swimmer who wears the second skin of her bathing suit tan for most of her life, never once steps foot in a pool. “The sea is alive, expansive; a pool is dead and confining. The sea is freedom. There is nothing in a pool: no current, no tide, no waves, and most of all, no history,” Best writes.

In the book, Martha swims to escape just about everything—the drudgery of motherhood, the mind numbingly boring tasks of being a housewife and is so well crafted, when I spoke to Best this week, I had to keep myself from asking how Martha was doing.

Best laughed. “She’s like an imaginary friend to me, too,” she says. “She’s good, she’s doing well.”

Martha doesn’t just swim in the sea, she crosses the English Channel nine (!) times (with one failed attempt). The book traces her swimming journey from 1947 until the present day and includes her Channel swims, estrangement, dementia and a devastating cancer diagnosis.

Best writes: “Gliding through the water almost completely submerged had always been a retreat to a different world for me. Swimming front crawl allowed me to focus inward, blocking everything else out—and the absolute quiet it afforded was unique. No other solitude—not going to the library, not sitting on a bench by myself—allowed my mind to wander so freely, roaming the wilds of my fantasies and the hundreds of other lives I imagined for myself.”

Swimming has also provided sanctuary for Best, the sea omnipresent in her life as well. As a 12-year-old, she spent time visiting San Francisco with her father. “I was always the first one in the ocean and the last one dragged out,” she says. She would collect small bottles of seawater and take them back to land-locked Waterloo with her so she could smell the briny sea during the “grim” Ontario winters and “be transported.”

She believed for years she’d be a professional surfer – something she laughs about now – but realized that it wasn’t surfing she was obsessed with, but the ocean. “It’s a holy experience, how people relate to water,” she says.

After years of swimming competitively, and lifeguarding and teaching swimming, Best moved to Toronto for university and was diagnosed with painful arthritis, a type in which, she describes, her spine and hips are trying to fuse. She began swimming again and says it has saved her time and time again. “I can be limping and hobbling on land, but as soon as I’m in the water, I can move again.”

“For me, water is physical freedom,” she says.

Though Best wrote about the English Channel, and ocean swimming and the power and fortitude of the sea, she admits she’s a pool swimmer herself.

“When I was living in London, I used to swim at London Fields Lido,” she says, a 50m outdoor pool in east London. It’s heated, year round and Best tells me about swimming in the snow on the few snowy days in London. (Check out these amazing photos from The Guardian!) 

“I prefer the wonderful incongruity of a pool in downtown London to Hampstead Heath or the Pond,” she says.

And because I ask every swimmer I met, I asked her if she has any other favourite swimming holes:
1). Her brother’s secret swimming hole in Guelph that he takes her to every time she’s home for a visit (I press for details, but she says she has no directional sense so this one remains a secret!)

2). The Hart House Pool at the University of Toronto: “It’s just so beautiful,” she says.

3). The 25m outdoor pool in her mom’s neighbourhood in Waterloo. “I went for a swim the day I arrived from the UK,” she says. “And it’ll be the last thing I do when I leave, on my way to the airport."

A swimming kindred spirit if I’ve ever known one.

~

Best will be launching the book in Toronto or Waterloo next week (swimwear option!):

Toronto: Monday, August 14 at 7pm at Glad Day Bookshop (499 Church St).
Free event; everyone is welcome.

Waterloo: Tuesday, August 15th at 7pm at Wordsworth Books (96 King Street South






  • Lindsay
  • Friday, August 11, 2017

Buckskin Lake revisited


I jumped in minutes after arriving at the cottage we've rented for the last two years, leaving everything packed, except my bathing suit, gin for a pair of docktails and some chips.

We were going to leave for the cottage after lunch, to coordinate with the toddler's nap, but my fella and I were up long before the kids (going to the cottage morning is apparently our Christmas morning) so we headed out the moment we could get everything stuffed into our wee car.

The lake was darker than I remember it. And colder this summer than last.



I immediately started swimming across the lake, leaving my family waving on the dock. But three quarters of the way there, I suddenly didn't know the lake and the dark water was made even darker by the tint of my new goggles. I turned around, treading water and clearing my goggles. But there was something in seeing my little family from across the lake that unsettled me.

Last year, I swam the "L" at least daily – across the lake, and the along the far shoreline until the red buoy – but this year, the "L" felt too far. The lake was empty except for the four of us (and one of them depending solely on me for survival) and somehow having a baby, not just a toddler on the dock. The what-if-something-happened thoughts started looming.



That's not to say I didn't swim – I did, just on our side of the lake – an "I" instead of an "L".

There was one beautiful post-dinner swim, where the sun burned the top of the water, and my legs kicked hard against the cold, an early morning swim before the wind had woken up when the water carried an exact replica of the sky, and another perfect mid-day swim where both kids slept and my post-swim snack was s'mores and beer.


There were molars and growth spurts and fevers and rainy days – not exactly the most relaxing vacation, but there was that lake, and a stack of books and docktails no matter what the weather.

Still, I was surprised at how hard it was to say goodbye to the lake I just started getting to know, knowing I might not ever see it again.



Farewell, Buckskin Lake.

  • Lindsay
  • Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Guest Post: Anne-Michelle Tessier, the accidental swimmer



I didn’t intend to be much of a swimmer this summer.

For nearly a decade, I’ve been a runner. An all-season, at least three times a week runner. A road race, trail race, 5k 10k 21k (and one 42k!) runner. I’ve run throughout in January in Edmonton and August in Montreal . I’ve run to the Space Needle and across Deception Bridge and through New Orleans and Manhattan and Port Moody and Hamilton; I’ve run through the Rockies and under the Detroit river, and last season I ran races in both Hell and Paradise, Michigan. Ok, I’m bragging, but you’ll see in a minute while these are merit badges I need to hold onto these days. Running is the primary way I keep sane, keep my body moving forward and my monkey brain at bay.

Then at the beginning of July I badly strained a muscle in my foot. It happened right before a race that I obviously shouldn’t have run, but I did, and so found myself sidelined for at least a month. AN ENTIRE MONTH WITHOUT RUNNING. CUE THE VIOLINS. … And so I took a deep (bilateral) breath and got ready to swim.

In recent years, my summers often involve a membership to the outdoor aquamarine gem of Michigan State University, where grad student triathletes and emeritus breast strokers do steady laps at wildly different speeds. My routine is: slip in, goggles on, breast stroke 50m to the end, one breath, and then front crawl back, for as long as I can stand it. Usually that means no more than half an hour, when either my breathing gets too ragged or my thoughts get beyond bored – normally, both. I long to be one of those dolphins doing flip turns and never stopping but somehow my oxygen levels can’t support it. Occasionally I read blog posts on more efficient swimming, and I remember things I’ve forgotten since swim team for 8 year olds, but trying to implement them at the pool only makes me feel more off-kilter.

Still: with running on hold, there was nothing else to do. In between stretching and strength cross-training and icing like a yeti, I have been going to the pool at least three days a week, and I made it up to 1km with little stopping (but still only 60% front crawl). Every trip to the pool, the lanes first looked cool and inviting, but three laps in they were liquid drudgery.

Then, last week, my friend Cheryl heard about my swimming progress and insisted we go swim in a lake together (well, first she insisted we go swim a FIVE KILOMETRE LAKE RACE together, but I vetoed that pretty fast.) While I’ve been a fair number of lakes, and the odd sea and ocean, my open water swimming has previously been about bobbing, paddling and generalized splashing about. This, however, was to be Actual Open Water Swim. Cheryl wanted to train for the above-mentioned 5k insanity, and I wanted to not look like an idiot behind her.

So yesterday, I pulled on my big girl suit and goggles, and drove half an hour north of the Michigan capital to a beachy lake surrounded by random farming fields, and got ready to swim the unknown. On a Tuesday afternoon, there were probably 30 people on the beach, but most of them were children playing and adults on towels, and those in the water were doing that bobbing and splashing I’ve already discussed. But Cheryl had heard of this lake from triathlete friends, and sure enough there was a woman with a latex head and an underwater watch out beyond the ropes, powering through the little waves. I hoped her location meant the whole rest of the lake wasn’t a mess of weeds? (Which it wasn’t, though they weren’t entirely missing.)

Well, gulp. No getting out of this now.

I told Cheryl I’d actually never swum with a swim cap before and had bought one just for this event, and so I dunked my head a bit like she did and then clumsily pulled it down to my ears. I kind of felt like a robot now, with this sleek new skull? And Cheryl said let’s just swim down to the end and I couldn’t see how to say otherwise, so I nodded and she started swimming away and I followed.
AND. Suddenly, I was swimming and it was so easy. The lake bottom wasn’t too deep, mixed with sand and plants, and the water was sun warmed in places and chilly in others.  And somehow I was front crawling through it, rhythmically, smoothly, barely having to think.  How was this happening? Why was it so effortless? Cheryl looked back frequently to make sure I was fine, but I was, and so we continued. Our laps drew a rectangle in the main section of the lake, back and forth and up and down, and in the end Cheryl’s wrist says we swam about 1.3k although I don’t see how we could have gone that far. It was so little effort.

I remained a little anxious about weeds looming up to slither at me, or maybe running into a fish. But the whole event was over in 40 minutes which felt like only 5, and it seemed I could have swum forever. Was it a miracle caused by wearing a swim cap? I did feel like the prow of a rubbery ship. Or does Motz County Park have secret watery powers of oxygenation? I am not yet sure, but there is clearly something to be accounted for.

… That swim was yesterday. Today marked two weeks from the day the doctor suggested I let the sprain heal two more weeks before trying any running, and so in fact I am writing this post while riding the high following my first, gingerly two mile run. It wasn’t pretty, but it mostly didn’t hurt, and we are going to call that a solid WIN.  Now back home, with my foot pro-actively iced under frozen peas and yesterday’s beach towel still drying in the hall, I’m thinking about a particular feeling I haven’t had in quite a while. It requires a very specific childhood dinosaur memory, so just bear with me for a minute.

When I was a kid, the Royal Ontario Museum had a dinosaur exhibit unparalleled anywhere else in the world (by which I mean, I had only ever seen that one dinosaur exhibit, so it was the best.) One thing that I will insist WAS the best, actually, was this one dark corner of underwater dinosaur diorama, in which a skeletal ichthyosaurus was suspended, under attack by two smaller prehistoric fish (?) (mini-sharks?), and all made to look submerged with flickering navy blue lighting. Although I was intrigued by the bones and the fight scene, in retrospect I was most affected by the light show – under their influence, I felt like I too was at the bottom of this dangerous primordial ocean, and especially when visiting on a hot Toronto summer day, it was both thrilling and refreshing.

Fast forward 25 or so years, to my best summer runs. It is hours after sunset, and I am gleaming with bug spray and pounding the sidewalks. The air is cooling off, though still sticky, and all around me the streetlights and traffic noises and city haze and neighbourhood chatter blend together. And if all the stars align: at some point, my pounding footsteps blur into a single rhythm, and I feel that I’m riding a wave. The light turns navy blue and the air is liquid and I am unstoppable. I’m night-swimming.

Maybe by the end of the summer, my foot will heal enough to go swimming on the pavement again.

In the meantime, we’re finding another lake to swim next week.


It’s turning out to be a good summer.

~

AMT is a linguist, a runner, a writer, a professor, a swing dancer, and possibly a swimmer. She lives, works and tries to keep moving forward in and around Michigan, but some months is easier found in Vancouver or Toronto. Her household includes another linguist and a dog, both of whom would rather chase the squirrels while she is in the pool.
  • Lindsay
  • Sunday, August 6, 2017

22 weeks till Christmas


It's been a bit of a disappointing summer on the swimming front. I can't even count the number of times I've gotten myself suited up, only to arrive at the pool and be turned away – thunder, often, and the occasional fouling. I have a a 4-month-old which makes mid-day swims tricky (anyone want to walk my baby up and down the boardwalk while I swim??) And I also have a 2.5-year-old which, combined with the baby, makes zipping off for a 7-8pm length swim near impossible. Oh, and then, on a glorious sunny day, I organized all the kids to be taken care of and flew down to the pool, and then was verbally assaulted and it was horrible to say the least. So yah, swimming + me + summer are not jiving like usual.

BUT, I went swimming this morning. The sky was beyond blue and the sun sparkled off the lake like handfuls of tossed diamonds. I walked on deck with a pair of women who I overheard saying, "It's already August, summer's almost over."

"NOT OVER!" I couldn't help but almost-yell (there was definitely panic in my voice).

"You know what I read today on Facebook?" the other woman asked. "It's only 22 weeks till Christmas."

AND THAT RIGHT THERE IS WHY I SWAM NOT ONCE, BUT TWICE TODAY.


Swim number one was filled with lovely, respectful fast lane swimmers and swim two took place under an increasingly ominous sky. It was my 4-month-old's very first pool experience and it was wonderful, though very short-lived because after dipping her toes in, there was thunder AND lightning and the pool closed*.

Still, SWIMMING. Twice. With tacos and paletas and patio cocktails in between. Because summer**.



* Note to self: don't ever bother getting the kids in sunscreen and swim diapers and bathing suits with packed snacks and water and towels and hats and get excited about a family dip because there will inevitably be thunder and/or lightning and you will end up at home in your not-wet suit making dark and stormy cocktails AGAIN...

**Thirty-three days until the outdoor pools close. I'm going as often as humanly possible.
  • Lindsay
  • Wednesday, August 2, 2017

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