The antidote to not swimming outdoors

Wednesday, November 18, 2015


It turns out my antidote to not being able to swim outdoors for more than half the year isn't swimming indoors. It turns out, it's writing a novel about a lifeguard named Bea who stands on the edge of Lake Ontario and swims every day at lunch.

One afternoon in September, I left my little guy with his first babysitter and spent hours (!) on the beach, staring at the lake, writing about the lake, wishing I was swimming in the lake with Bea.

An excerpt:

I take the ladder, rungs slippery with algae. From the sand, the lake looks blue, but at eye level, it’s a thick, dense green. I adjust my goggles and push off.


I trace a keyhole underwater and kick hard, the muted thump of my feet against the surface. Emily is a strong swimmer and I have to work to keep up. We swim along the cordoned off area, the blue and white rope slimy with algae, and turn around at the final buoy to head back the other way.

Lake swimming is so much different than swimming in a pool. Here, waves are sporadic and catch you off guard, tripping up your arm, making you misjudge how far you have to turn your head for your next breath. Here, the water gets in your nose so you taste the lake, even if you’re careful not to swallow any water.

I wonder how different it would be if this was the ocean -- if the waves were governed by tides and undertows instead of winds and boats. I’ve never swam in an ocean before and wonder if the salt really does make you buoyant.

I blink through the water leaking into my goggles, Emily’s legs glowing to my right and as we swim back and forth and back and forth, I realize how much I’ve missed this -- the rhythmic quiet, where the only thing filling my ears is the push of water. 

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