Diana Nyad is determined to swim from Cuba to the USA.  One day she might make it.  I cannot imagine swimming with sharks and jellyfish and hurricanes in the mix.  I love to swim and do not do much of it anymore.  When we had a pool I would go in everyday.  My favorite time was the last thing in the evening just before I went to bed.  We did not have heaters in these pools.  It could be refreshing if the outside temperature was not 85 and above.  Pool swimming is not my favorite.

We had lakes on our island growing up.  Now when I say Island please understand we were connected to the mainland by a short bridge.  It was still an island and to me The Island!  The ocean was all around us for swimming as well if you chose to do so.  You chose to do so at your own whim or lack of knowledge.

Lake swimming is my favorite.  It is cold and refreshing.  Our lakes were clean and clear.  The sandy beach part would get a little swirly when all of us were there kicking up the sand and further out it was clear.  For me there appeared to be an unwritten right of passage for this lake.  I am referring to the one just outside of town called EchoLake not Long Pond or EagleLake.

When we were toddlers up to about 7 plus or minus we swam at Echo Lake Sand Beach.  We could wade into the water quite far out and not get too much above our waist.  Swimming lessons were held here as well.  Then it seemed we graduated to Ike’s Point.  This had rocks and a small beach and was usually not too populated.  Or if the man that ran Echo Vista was in a good mood we could go there.  When we got to high school it was the Bluffs or nothing!  This was one huge rock and we sat and sunned on it occasionally getting in the water.  Here you could dive.  There actually was a small beach area here too.  This was good as after my bother was born (when I was a teenager) he could be over there with our mom, Marie, while we swam where we wanted.  Having them there was not optimum for a teen however.

Marie, my second mother, did not swim much when she married Dad.  Or, coming from a farm in Indiana she may not have learned and that was why she swam very little.  We were a swimming family and in the water as much as we could be.  This wonderful woman took herself to the Y quietly not telling us and took swimming lessons!  While she was never a great swimmer, she learned to do a few strokes and keep her head above water and up with my young brother. 

My favorite Marie and swimming story involved my friend Liz and me.  Flutter boards were the new big thing in the early 60s.  They looked like the top half of a surf board and were Styrofoam and used to teach kids to swim. Marie had them for my brother and youngest sister and herself too I think.  The kids were playing at the beach part of the Bluffs and Liz and I grabbed the flutter boards and started swimming out to the middle of the lake.  It was fun and we were kicking and chatting and stopping and chatting and just enjoying the water and freedom as we were swimming.  The next thing I knew Marie was flaying her arms from the shore.  I had no idea what she was doing or saying as I could not hear her.  We stopped and looked around and we were halfway across the lake.  We guessed we had gone too far and headed back to find out our guess was correct.  The water quickly became very hot for us when we returned!

The best thing about lake swimming is the water itself.  As I said it is cold, clear, clean and refreshing.  I loved to wash my hair in it – many of us did.  We would go to a place away from the main swim area.  We would lather and then just swim away from the soap and got squeaky clean hair – good stuff.  I am sure the EPA would have a thing or two to say about that today!

Then there is the ocean.  The northern Atlantic is a lot colder than where Diana Nyad was swimming.  As kids we would swim in it.  Not an easy task.  You would numb your feet then your shins then your belly and in you went.  It was cold!  Not sure the water ever got much above 60 degrees.  Did not faze us at all.  The thing we did not like was when the jelly fish came in to surround us for a quick out.  Of course at Seawall – a rocky shore – we could explore tidal pools and they were still wet and were warmer.

The weekend my husband asked me to marry him we went to Sand Beach.  This area is different from Echo Lake Sand Beach and is a part of Acadia National Park.  Acadia was my playground as a kid and how lucky I was as nothing was off limits then.  I took my husband to Sand Beach which is a manmade beach by the way.  We put our towels down to sit and enjoy the sun in our swimsuits.  The next thing I knew he is running pell-mell for the water.  I am screaming, he is running and bam he hit the water to swim.  He stood right back up and ran right back to me.  He asked me, in a not so nice voice,  why I had not told him it was so cold.  I said you didn’t give me a chance to do so!!!  Not many natives swim in the ocean often.  I did have an aunt that swam in it every single day she could in the summer time as she thought it good for her.  She also ate wheat germ and made rose hip bread.  She was a woman ahead of her times in the 60s.  I am not sure this made her live any longer.  Despite that, we know now that it is healthy. 

I will never set a record and hopefully one day Diana Nyad will.  I still enjoy swimming though it is mostly done now only in our garden tub!


2 comments on “SWIMMING FOR A RECORD

  1. We went to Aquaboggan with the grandchildren yesterday and there could not be a more different experience from swimming at Echo Lake!!! It was fun with the wave pool, tube rides, water slides, etc. but nothing can compare to swimming on The Island. I think Aunt Ruth was right because of the salt in the water. I also remember besides the wheat germ and the rose hip bread, she used to make carrot juice. It felt furry, Yuk!!
    Love you, Aunt Becky

  2. I was 21 years old and in my last summer in NYC before my senior year in college. I had a day off from my waiter’s job in Central Park, and it was going to be 90 degrees in the city again. Doc (my college roommate) and I decided to bolt from our unairconditioned apartment in The Bronx and drive a little bit upstate to find the mythical Lake Minnewaska up near New Paltz. After a 2-hour drive we found the lake nestled amongst the hills and rocky cliffs of the lower Catskills just west of New Paltz. We parked illegally, but in God’s wilderness no one really cared, unlike Grand Avenue in front of our apartment building. Already dressed in bathing suits we were ready to go. We worked our way through the brush to the edge of the lake where we saw there were mostly 6-foot or more drops off of the rocks into the water. We moved along the water’s edge until we found a spot where we could get back out of the water and jumped in with no hesitation. AGGGGGHHHH! We should have tested the water with a big toe. The shock was startling. I had grown up on the south shore of Long Island and Doc was used to the waters around Virginia Beach. Neither of us expected the icy coldness of this mountain lake so close to New York City. Even in the Catskill hills the air temperature that day was hoovering in the mid to high 80s. So when we hit the water that must have been in the 60s it felt like a therapeutic hypothermia treatment. I have carried this experience forward with me as a useful tool each time I am about to jump in any swimming pool or lake. I repeat my mantra “Minnewaska, Minnewaska, Minnewaska” and I am never shocked by the temperature of the water.

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