Sunday, August 1, 2010

A Place to Swim

I have always wanted to have a convenient place to swim. When I was a kid, swimming at Aunt Judy's pool was always one of the things I looked forward to the most. My favorite part of any summer camp I went to was the swimming. In college, I enjoyed the periodical swim in UCA's huge lap-pool. While Kerry and I lived at Summerhill, I even enjoyed that teeny tiny pool.

But over the years, I have grown out of love with swimming pools. Swimming in the creeks and even in the caves of Ozarks, the White River, Greers Ferry, and Lake Oachita made me realize how cool swimming is in vast open bodies of water. Pools nowadays, unless they are really big, seem stifling. If another person gets in the pool, it becomes unbearably cramped...not to mention my distaste of being in that close of quarters with other people's mucosal secretions without very much water to diffuse them. If I swim in a pool, I want to swim alone.

But being alone in a river, lake, or ocean is a scary thing. No matter how much I love moving through water--not matter how good it makes me feel--it isn't an element natural to my survival. You can't see what is under you except in the clearest of waters. Currents can drag you any direction. There is a reason that bodies of water play host to many of humanity's myths of demons, mysteries, and beasts. All these thoughts run through my mind when I swim alone--even in pools sometimes, as silly as that is.

But the presence of other people makes all of those thoughts go away. Whether it is the comfort of human companionship in an otherwise inhospitable and alien elemental environment or the foolishness of thinking that 2>1 on a sinking ship, it helps. Would I have attempted to swim to the buoys out in the frigid ocean off the north shore by myself? Hell no. But with someone else to make the swim with me? Hell yes!

We swam to those buoys, by God. And even if they looked a lot closer to shore once we got out of the water, it was awesome.