I set a goal at the beginning of the summer to swim across the lake every day. You might think that with all this hot, hot weather, this would prove to be a snap. So far I’ve made it about half the time. Trouble is, too much hot weather makes the lake too warm and it ceases to be inviting. This hasn’t happened since 2002 when slipping into the water really did feel like a bathtub. The good news is that a heavy rain will alter the temperature back to normal levels, and we had rain yesterday and today.
Swimming without a lane across an expanse of water alters your perception of where you are in the universe. You can try counting strokes to measure your progress or you can simply lose yourself in the cadence of the swim. If you fail to look up from time to time you can find yourself far off course. Once you prop your goggles on top of your head and collect your bearings you immediately have to push the distance out of your mind or you’ll drown just thinking about it. If fatigue sets in, which it always does with me on the return trip, you simply flip over on your back and float. My mother taught me this when I was a young, struggling swimmer.
“If you get tired float on your back,” she instructed.
“And do what?”
“Rest?” I asked. “Rest in the water?”
It seemed odd. Then I found out almost every swimmer knew this trick. There is absolutely no better way to de-stress. Find a lake, swim to the very middle, flip over on your back and stare up at the clouds. Keep your hands fluttering occasionally so you don’t sink and then let everything melt away. Try to watch a least one cloud dissolve before you swim back. You will return a different person. Just setting off from the dock to be alone on the planet will begin to lower your blood pressure.
When my daughter was in the fifth grade and eager to swim across the lake, I agreed on the condition we stop halfway over and float. This had the added bonus of allowing me to take a break from watching her swim.
“What do we think about?” she asked when we arrived near the center and we were treading water in a bicycle motion.
“Oh,” she said, seemingly unsatisfied.
“You think about how the earth is supporting you.”
“How nice,” she said.