Sunnyside swimming

Thursday, September 24, 2015



I grew up close to Lake Ontario, but my childhood swimming always took place in public pools, northern lakes and the occasional backyard pool. So when I moved to Roncesvalles, a few blocks and a bridge north of the lake, with no pools with early morning length swims nearby, I decided it was time to jump in.

There was a pilot project that summer, where the curve of lake at Sunnyside was cordoned off and cleaned with UV light. I didn't look into the science, I just believed the sign and biked down at 7am every morning in June, left my trackpants and my towel in the sand and swam.

It was so cold. Colder than any swim I've had in a long time, but I was determined to swim before heading into work.

The water was thick and sludgy, and weeds trailed along my arms. (I still shudder thinking about the weeds). But I swam, trying not to swallow any water, pretending I wasn't as cold as I was, back and forth along the rope, channelling my inner Marilyn Bell. She was 16 -- I was 30 and I was just swimming back and forth, not across the entire lake!

I would bike home shivering, picking up coffee smelling like lake water. It would take at least 45 minutes in the hottest shower to keep my teeth from chattering for the rest of the morning.

But I swam in the lake as the sun cleared the highway, alone, in a small section of this huge lake, that looked sometimes like the ocean.



(Then I went to Nebraska and swam in a quarry that was not quite as cold, and when I came back to Toronto, the geese had taken over the cordoned off area at Sunnyside and the E. Coli levels were through the roof. That was the end of my Sunnyside swims, though it remains the perfect place for rocktails...)

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