Friday, September 23, 2011

The wild call of water

Like most children of my generation, I learned to swim with confidence well before my teen years. It was the best gift my parents ever gave me. My love affair with cold-water swimming, a personal favorite, began at Raymond B Winter Sate Park. My family called it Half Way Dam and let me tell you, it was a child's paradise: cold, scary changing rooms with pit toilets; a well-stocked canteen with killer fries and a gang-busters candy selection; soft-as-silk sand, perfect for digging and building with, and a cold, spring-fed lake, fragrant with minerals from the depths of the earth.

My older sister and I spent much of our time there underwater, hands firmly planted in the loamy bottom, legs flailing, feet reaching above the surface in a never-ending quest to achieve the perfect hand-stand. For me, it was the beginning of a long courtship with cold-water swimming, a treat I relish to this day. From summer swimming lessons at Lithia Springs near the sprawling Susquehanna, to deep quarries with thrilling cliffs; from the snow-banked shallows of a Minnesota river to the frigid waters of Howe and Puget Sound, I've savored it all.

Swimming laps yesterday, my breath in rhythmic synchronicity with limbs in perpetual motion, all was silent, save for the soothing sound of stroking bodies gliding through the water. Beautiful, beautiful water.

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