The first Sunnyside swim of the year


Glory be! It's here! It's actually here - the first outdoor pool swim of the year. I've been waiting for this day since the day after Labour Day last year and after biking by an empty Sunnyside Pool for moooooonths, it was full and the sun shone and then it was Saturday at 10am and I got to swim!

Last year's first swim of the season was a wretched disappointment. It seems funny now, how hard it was to find a window to leave the house with a 2-month-old, how meticulous I was about packing and how thrilled I was about biking down to my happy place, only to find out someone had pooped in the pool, followed by a thunderstorm. Okay, maybe it's still a little early to be entirely funny...

But this year is not last year! The baby is 14 months old and needing me less and less, and my plan was to swim first thing in the morning so there was no chance of poop getting in the way of my swim. The atmosphere in the change room is usually fairly perfunctory, but everyone was positively jubilant. 


I was the fifth one in the clear, turquoise blue pool and it was pure heaven. I realized swimming length after length (or, well, width after width), that the first Sunnyside swim of the year is a combination of New Year's and the start of the school year. I can't help but remember all of the first swims that came before, reflecting on where I was then, who I was then, and where and who I am now. It's like all those years of Lindsay are swimming at the same time.

I will admit that Saturday wasn't the warmest and at the 45 minute mark, I couldn't feel my hands, but then came the best part: sitting on the deck, watching the wonder that is a public pool filling up - all of the different ways to swim, all of the different bodies, the different suits, the riot of beach towels. And because it was the most glorious swim in the history of swims, I then met a trio of fellow swimmers who were wonderful company (and because Toronto is a small town, we of course had heaps of friends in common) and I left the deck with an invitation to Monday night bocce ball. Man, I love this city!

Kerry Clare sums it up perfectly: "I love public pools, where everybody just shows up on hot days. I love all the bodies, the splashing, the obnoxious people, the towels spread out on the deck, the way the water cools you down just like that, and how my children have turned into little fish. The swimming pool is everything I love about living the city." (You can read the full post here - it's wonderful and full of all things summery!)


This weekend must've been charmed because I got to swim on Sunday as well - a much warmer swim and I had to tear myself out of the water and bike home to my family where I convinced them all to put on suits and sit in the tiny wading pool in the backyard...I will make swimmers of them yet!

To Summer 2018 and all the swim fun ahead!




  • Lindsay
  • Monday, June 18, 2018

2018 Summer Swim Goals


It's June 1st, which means the countdown to swimming in Toronto's outdoor pools IS ON! I follow a lot of UK lidos on Twitter and watching them fill with that incredible turquoise blue makes me so envious - BUT, my beloved Sunnyside opens on Saturday June 16, and most of the other pools open the following weekend.

Last year's opening weekend was, ahem, less than successful, so I have great hopes for this year's!

Here's a chart with the opening dates of alllll the outdoor pools!

So while I wait for the chlorinated blue to fill the pool, I've been thinking about my 2018 summer swim goals.

So far, I've got:
- 50m evening swim at Smythe Pool with my fast lane pal
- taking my 14-month-old for her first Toronto swim (last year didn't count...!)
- a week of lake swimming
- a Lake Ontario dip off The Island
- a swim in The Beaches
- a roadtrip to the Elora Quarry
- getting a new bathing suit
- a dinosaur park/picnic/swim combo with my kiddos
- a SHWHK team swim!

Anything else I should add to my summer swim list?

  • Lindsay
  • Friday, June 1, 2018

FOUND: Our 2018 swimming uniform


The outdoor pools are still 6 weeks from opening and the lakes and rivers are still just a degree from frozen, BUT I've found our Swimming Holes We Have Known Summer of 2018 swimming uniform: Harry and Meghan swimsuits to pair with our Team Mermaid caps!!!

I jest! They're so awful! (The positioning of Harry's beard slays me!) But also, I kind of want one cus they're SO CREEPY!

(Thanks to Teen Vogue for the find).
  • Lindsay
  • Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Swim-art: Aquafit beauties



One of the best parts about this blog are the pool/lake/swimming hole, swim-lit and swim-art recommendations that come my way. And this weekend, fellow morning swimmer Kerry Clare sent along this incredible swim art—artist Suzanne Moreau is painting all of the women in her aquafit class in her series, Bathing Beauties. Aren't they stunning? They're up at the Kent Farndale Gallery in Port Perry.



Makes me wish I could a) paint/draw and b) had painted/drawn all of my fast lane pals over the years, people whose names I don't remember, and maybe never knew, but people who I spent hours next to, trading small bits of our lives in the shallow end.

*Photos of the art courtesy of Suzanne Moreau



  • Lindsay
  • Friday, May 4, 2018

Swim-ventures: The Argentina edition


Before heading to Argentina this winter (their summer!), a friend who had spent the last year there warned me that pools aren’t easy to find. She scoured the neighbourhood we were staying in and found a few – most in hotels, but a few others and I went down with a suitcase full of bathing suits, all set to swim on the regular.

Of course, that didn’t happen. I swam at a palace and it was glorious, and then the baby got sick and I got sick and my pool hunt went on hiatus. And then when I dove back in (though not literally, sob), I was striking out left right and centre. Nearby hotel pools did not have day passes, not even outrageously expensive day passes and getting a room at a hotel within walking distance of our flat seemed ridiculous. There was a pool in the basement of the university’s law department – a huge, imposing building with a million columns, and another at a techno-heavy gym on the same street as one of our favourite parks, but my Spanish was terrible and figuring out schedules and passes was daunting. Despite the blazing heat and the 3 bathing suit stores on every block, there were no public pools, or splash pads to be found.


BUT, there was Parque Norte – a 30-hectare water park with a bajillion pools just a short cab ride away. It was my swimming solace. So, one morning, we sunscreened up and packed an epic picnic and took a cab over…only to discover it was closed for the season. END OF THE SEASON?! IT WAS 35 DEGREES! But it turns out summer ends at the end of February there, and it was the first week of March. Also, it turns out Argentinian websites are notoriously out of date/not updated. It was a pool fail of epic proportions and my fella had to flag down a cab on the side of a highway to get home.


There was one teeny little pool on a rooftop in the swanky Palermo neighbourhood I got to dip into briefly, and a short dip in Uruguay and after consulting with my Argentinian Instagram pals, we decided it was time to head to the ocean.

We drove for 5 hours past fields and fields of cows – it felt like we were in the middle of Saskatchewan, with the odd roadside parilla and queso-selling farm stand.  The ocean seemed impossible far away. But we kept on and drove through a thick pine forest. It felt like those cottage roads, where the sun is suddenly filtered through trees, dappling the dirt road. We drove until the dirt road gave way to sand and there we were, at our hotel for the weekend. The air went from smelling like pine to smelling like salt.

“You have to be patient, Mommy,” my 3-year-old kept insisting as my fella and the hotel employee traded Google translated sentences. 

The sun was already on its way down and I was grateful I had packed a bag with just bathing suits and towels. We grabbed the key to our room and grabbed the bag and headed for the beach, just steps from our door.

The Atlantic was loud and much rougher than I had imagined. This was not a swimming ocean. In true LZV form, I got in to my knees, the undertow pulling at my legs, and bailed. I took a break, watched the wind whip my baby’s wispy hair, and then went back in and dove through the waves. The water was warm, the air was cold and it was perfect.

That night, we walked home from dinner along the sandy road, and down to the beach. We held our babies under the Milky Way and listened to the crashing waves and showed the kids Mars, and marvelled at this glorious life we’ve made, our great luck, our great fortune.


The next morning, I woke up early, before the baby even. I could’ve settled in for another hour of sleep, but the sun was rising over the ocean and I could see it from our bedroom window, so I flung the curtains open and Adam made me coffee to take with me to the beach. It was far too rough to swim, and the water was filled with surfers. So many surfers in fact that I felt like I was living in that Keanu Reeves movie with the surfing bank robbers.

I’m used to calm water and fixed shorelines – northern Ontario lakes. The unpredictability of the ocean terrifies me, the churning white, the relentlessness of the waves.


We spent the day on the beach, and though I couldn’t swim-swim, it didn’t much matter. We made sand castles and collected shells and ran in and out of the water, my hair thick with salt. Both kiddos stood in the ocean for the first time and I beamed so hard my face hurt.


There was an epic storm that night, lightning, thunder, rain, the works and when we woke the next morning, the waves were so ferocious, there weren’t even any surfers in the water. The wind whipped so fast I was afraid it’d knock the 3-year-old over completely and we drove home without going for one final dip.

I didn’t see water again until I got home, slipping back into the centre lane of the pool I think of as “mine”. It’s boring and predictable and I’m already plotting my next ocean visit, but it’s also lovely and predictable and I’ve missed the muted, meditation of length after length after length.


  • Lindsay
  • Wednesday, April 4, 2018

A dip in the world's widest river



The feeling I used to have moments before a first date is the same feeling I get before I swim in a new body of water – a trill in my sternum, tiny bubbles floating inside my arms. I get nervous and chatty and fidgety. My whole face aches from smiling, beaming.

I wasn’t planning on swimming in Uruguay. I wasn’t even planning on BEING in Uruguay, but I was in Buenos Aires for a month with my family and Colonia, Uruguay is an hour-long boat ride away, and so, we packed a picnic and a lot of sunscreen and headed across the strangely purple Rio de la Plata for an afternoon.

I almost didn’t swim in the river – I forgot a suit, and a towel and we didn’t have much time before we’d have to head back to the hovercraft*. And the water was a thick, muddy purple that was a bit suspect (Wikipedia has since assured me it’s just silty and shallow, hence the purplish grey colour). But it was hot, so, so hot and other people were swimming, so, I stripped down and half-skinny dipped in the world’s widest river on a sunny afternoon in March.


 It was shallow. SO shallow. And so rocky, but it was warm and glorious and floating staring up at a sky that is far away from home is one of my greatest pleasures.

I also learned that muslin baby blankets are PERFECT substitute towels.

Fun facts I’ve learned since: The Rio de la Plata is home to a rare breed of dolphin that swims in both salt and fresh water. It is NOT home to alligators, thank god, a fact that didn’t cross my mind until my sister texted me, horrified.



*It was technically a hovercraft, which sounds amazing, and extra amazing for any Paw Patrol fans out there, but was really just a huge ferry…
  • Lindsay
  • Monday, April 2, 2018

A swim in an Argentinian Palace: The Palacio Duhau




Today, I went swimming in an Argentinian palace. I'm still pinching myself and if my hair wasn't still wet, I might think it was just the most beautiful daydream.

But I did. I swam in a beautiful old palace, the Palacio Duhau, Park Hyatt Buenos Aires—just blocks from our apartment. 



I'd been in Argentina for a week already—a glorious week of picnics, coffee, steak, malbec, gold street lamps and the bluest skies. But no swimming and I was starting to dry up. A friend who spent last year in BA warned me that swimming isn't easy here, pools are hard to find, and even harder to get into. (Though there are bathing suit stores on every block...!)



But then this morning, I ducked under some palm trees and walked through the glorious, imposing gates of the Park Hyatt. It's an enormous indoor pool with lights that shift depending on the time of day—from sunrise to after sunset. Most hotel pools are so tiny and dinky, made for splashing, not swimming, but this is a proper POOL. I watched a family of kids invent a pool noodle tag-like game and then swam length after length next to a fellow swimmer (chatting about swimming in my terrible Spanish!) I swam my heart out for a full hour before retreating to the hot tub AND sauna. It was positively glorious.


I can't thank Luján and Paula enough for the wonderful dip. I can't recommend it highly enough!


(Had to sweat it out in the sauna in honour of Rhya, our ultimate sauna fan)

  • Lindsay
  • Monday, February 26, 2018

Swim-ventures: The Argentina Edition

The pool at the Four Seasons Buenos Aires (photo from the Four Seasons BA Instagram)

I love swimming (but you already knew that). And the only think I love more than swimming is travel-swimming! New pools! New lakes! New oceans!

In four (!) days, I'm going to be packing up my suit and my little family and heading to Argentina for full-on summer and a tour of as many Buenos Aires pools as I can manage!

Fellow Swimming Holes swimmer, Laura has already ventured to Argentina with this glorious meditation on Patagonia blue and a pool-side fairytale in Mendoza, and I've gotten some incredible pool tips from new swimming Instagram and Twitter pals. I promise to take a million pictures and share all of the joy that is BA-swimming! I've also got a bunch of Love Lettering Project envelopes packed, because I have a feeling a bunch of these pools are worthy of big epic love...

On the very top of my list is the outdoor pool at the Four Seasons BA - the photo at the top. Please note: I will probably die from joy if I get a dip in!

And then there's this rooftop beaut at the PanAmericano Hotel:



And this 30 HECTARE (!) pool extravaganza. THIRTY HECTARES OF SWIMMING! I can't wait!

The Park Hyatt pool looks promising and there's an Olympic-sized pool just a bit outside of the city that I might try to venture to! We are also planning to find the ocean at some point too, because, well, I am part-mermaid and I need me some salt water.

I've got a lot to do in the next few days, but I just keep watching the Olympics and staring at photos of Argentinian pools. The only things I have packed so far are airmail envelopes, a picnic blanket and goggles, but that's all I need, right?!

P.S.: if you have any other must-swim BA pools, let me know!


  • Lindsay
  • Thursday, February 15, 2018

The momentous days


My son learned how to blow bubbles last week. In the bathtub, not a pool, because who wants to haul a kid to swimming lessons and back home again when it’s -20. It was momentous and we cheered and cheered, all four of us clapping and high five-ing in our tiny bathroom. It is already one of the highlights of my year. (Also, he's currently reading "Swimming Swimming" to himself, though he really just skips through the swimming pages until he gets to the page where the characters eat ice cream).


Though he just figured out how to blow bubbles, he somehow passed swimming lessons in the early days of December. It was the first time I didn’t take him and, I admit, it was a relief, not having to confront my deep love of swimming with his ambivalence that teetered on a full rejection...but he went, every week with my fella and they’d sing songs and dunk themselves under the water to varying degrees of upset and they’d come home and we’d all eat grilled cheese sandwiches with pickles for lunch.

My comfort is that I also was ambivalent about swimming as a young kid. I distinctly remember the claustrophobic heat of Memorial Pool, the sheer terror of having to make it all the way across to the other side of Park Lawn Pool, my complete inability to tread water (I failed Red at least 3 times). 

In fact in 1985, I "could not muster up enough endurance to complete the distance requirement", and baaaaaarely passed Pre-School 5 with, and I quote: "Lindsay must continue to work hard to further develop her endurance on her front."

Look at me now, Andrew Solomon (who is probably now in his mid-50s), I want to say as I spend every free waking minute I have swimming. Look at my hours-long front crawl

And so, instead of celebrating check marks on a report card, I remind myself that blowing bathtub bubbles is far more important...



Related: a high school chum promised her daughter a badge for this round of swimming lessons, only to learn there aren’t badges! (GASP, THE HORROR!) so she commissioned me to make a penguin badge. I can’t wait till report card day!
  • Lindsay
  • Monday, January 29, 2018

New Year's Swim-olutions



I love the clean slate of a new year – the still water/pool to yourself potential of it all. And I make resolutions every year. Last year, I had a hunker-down-and-get-through-it year. Not to say there wasn't joy and goodness, there was heaps of both, but I was pregnant to kick it off and having a hard pregnancy and then I was in newborn-land and I learned from the first time around that hunkering down is key (for me!). But sometime in December, not long after I found a new pool, I realized I had turned a corner. The baby needed me less and I needed me more and so, my resolution for 2018 is to fill myself up – reading, hanging with my favourite people as often as I can, wonderful meals, writing, travelling (big adventures ahead!), not working all the time, and of course, swimming.

I realized in writing out my highlights of 2017 that many were swimming related (unsurprising!) and also that most of my other highlights were tangentially related to swimming. I came up with titles for important projects, solved Love Lettering Project logistics and figured out key components for the novel I'm working on. Over the holidays, I even came up with the premise for a kids' book I've since written in the pool, and that's to say nothing of the personal stuff my brain sorts out while I'm doing length after length of front crawl. Swimming is like my brain's coin sorter, where you pour a bunch of change in the top of a machine and it shakes and sorts it all until all the dimes are separate from the nickels, separate from the quarters and realize you've had $53.51 in change sitting in a mason jar in your front hall all this time.

And so my resolution is to swim. As often as I can. For as long as I can. But also that the length of time doesn't matter so much as the getting in the water. I've even started getting a babysitter to watch my baby just so I can swim.

Even though I split my bathing cap on the first swim of the year (and have decided to see it as more time to get a haircut than as an inauspicious start to the year!),  my first swim of the year was a glorious hour-long swim while a snowstorm raged outside. And eight days in, I've already had a few solid 2018 swims so far with another on its way in mere minutes.

To swimming, and all the goodness it brings...
  • Lindsay
  • Monday, January 8, 2018

All I want for Christmas...the swimmer's edition

(Clockwise from top left: Lisa Congdon's The Joy of SwimmingLisa Golightly's swimmer, Team Mermaid's caps and Minnow Bather's Guinevere Maillot in Lilies in Twilight suits). Photos from makers' IG accounts

All I want for Christmas is a good solid swim. Maybe an hour or so in a quiet pool. Santa? Can you hear me? I've been pretty good this year, minus the few tantrums I threw when the pool was unexpectedly closed (ahem).

In case you have a swimmer on your Christmas list, my fellow swimmers, Rhya and Laura, and I have some swimmerly suggestions (please note: none of these are affiliate links nor have been sponsored in any way)!

* Swimming books: I'd recommend Gillian Best's The Last Wave (god, I loved it!) and Turning by Jessica J. Lee (I reviewed it here!), Lisa Congdon's The Joy of Swimming, or if you're in the UK, Watermarks: Writing by Lido Lovers and Wild Swimmers (full disclosure, I have a piece in this amazing watery collection!)

* A fancy suit, perhaps one from the Canadian-made Minnow Bathers - lordy they're beautiful suits.

* New goggles (because Kerry Clare reminded me this week non-mouldy, fresh swimmin' specs are a glorious thing indeed!)

* A new bathing cap: perhaps a long-hair swim cap for the large ponytailed swimmer in your life, or a Team Mermaids cupcake-covered cap

* A Turkish towel: These are beautiful!

Wireless swim headphones: This is Rhya's ultimate dream

* Cute flip flops

* A swim bag

* A flutter board or a pull buoy

* Zippered pouches

* Mini shampoos and conditioner, maybe even some moisturizer to help combat the post-chlorine itch

Swim art (and I'd add Lisa Golightly's work to the mix! My sis gave me this print last year and it continues to blow my mind with its beauty and this gem is hanging in my daughter's room).

* This one's a big extravagant, but pret-ty next level for a swimmer in your life: The best gift I've ever received was a weekend in a hotel (that had a pool, obvs). I starfish-slept in the enormous king-sized bed and swam at least twice a day, and ordered room service, and it is still one of the next three days I've ever spent.

* And maybe the best gift of all: The gift of water therapy for a patient at Sick Kids' Hospital

P.S.: The UK Team Mermaid crew has a great swimmer's gift list here, too!
  • Lindsay
  • Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Swim art: Bringing the swimspiration indoors

Art


Photo and clay sculptures by Isabelle Di Sclafani

If I can't swim outside these days, I've decided the next best things is bringing swimming inside and what better way than with swimming art...

I am in LOVE with Isabella Di Sclafani's swimmer sculptures (above). Aren't they incredible? And she'll be in Montreal at souk @ sat (Nov 28-Dec. 3) and in Toronto at City of Craft (Dec. 8-10).

h2o life jacket ink on kitakata, stitching, polyfil, 22x15x4”, 2014, photo Jeffrey M Bruce


And then there's Kristen Martincic from Columbia, Missouri. Holy GOD, I love absolutely everything she does. Look at these suits. And these caps. And this pool series. And this leisure pool series. And this water series. And these inflatables. I want to live inside her art. All of it.


And Kate Pugsley, a Chicago-based illustrator, who has such joyful swimmers, like the ones above, and like these ones! And there are even some amazing swim-wearables like these dresses!

From Swimming Pools series by Maria Svarbova

And Maria Svarbova's incredible swimming pool photographs. Each of them pictures a different pool, usually built in the Socialist Era, in various locations in Slovakia. How stunning are they? (And she even has a Swimming Pools book out now!)

There's more swimming art here and here!
  • Lindsay
  • Friday, November 24, 2017

Finding the swim-joy again

Joy


I have re-found the joy in swimming. I didn't even realize I had lost it until I found it again, but here I am, swimming with a ridiculous amount of joy – like summer levels of swim-joy. I have caught myself fully smiling mid-swim. It is glorious.

There was definitely heaps of swimming joy this summer. So many outdoor dips, but after the outdoor pools closed for the season, things started to go down hill. The pool near my home is only open for length swim for an hour on Saturdays and Sundays, so getting to the pool with a still-schedule-less baby and a toddler who finished swimming lessons at a different pool just minutes before length swim started was proving to be impossible. Combine the stress of just getting to the pool (while leaving often crying children to have lunch and be put down for naps), with lukewarm showers, often-sleeping-in-the-guard-chair lifeguards (and supervisors that didn't give a shit), and sexual harassment that was poorly dealt with by the City (and it took MONTHS afterward of me insisting on action), swimming was something I did, but there wasn't a lot of joy. It was a box to be checked off so that I could make it through the week.

But after one too many missed swims, and being stick in a months-long teething purgatory (both kids teething AT THE SAME TIME, WTF?!) and constantly feeling anxious that the man who had sexually harassed me would be there, I broke down.

I needed to swim, for my mental health even more than my physical health. And then I saw an Instagram post from a triathlete pal of a gorgeous, empty pool. WHERE IS THAT AND HOW CAN I SWIM THERE? I wrote to her. It was at a gym that opened up nearby and the pool was almost always empty, she told me.

And so, I went by later that day to see it for myself. A trainer took me on a tour of the gym, or tried to. He wanted to show me muscle-building machines and the cardio room and the basketball court and I was all, "Don't care. Never gonna use them. Where's the pool?" There there it was, a turquoise beacon of beauty. (That by some miracle is even cheaper than swimming at my former pool - !)

I've been swimming non-stop since. A few weeks ago my fella was sick and stuck working at home and though I would never wish him to be sick, it meant there was a warm body in the house during the baby's naps. That week I swam FIVE TIMES.

I know it sounds like hyperbole, but it's actually been life-changing – to be able to swim whenever I can AND feel safe. I am a better writer and a better mother and a better person to be around. I am so much happier. I do miss my fast lane friends, but having a lane, and sometimes even pool to myself is such luxury.


  • Lindsay
  • Monday, November 13, 2017

Team Mermaids: The Toronto contingent


I have been swimming. Not nearly as often as I’d like -- the 12-12:55pm windows are so hard to squeeze in with a baby and childcare, etc, but weekends are for swimming and on weekends, I swim.

The trouble with only having two days to swim means it’s hard to justify skipping a swim, even if getting into the water is the very last thing I want to do. (Sleep, I’d always rather sleep!)

But there are two things I hold onto to get me over that I’d-rather-be-sleeping hump -- one is the potential that my fast lane pal will be there and she is just so wonderful, and the other is that I get to wear my purple Team Mermaids cap I got from swimming internet pals, Katie and Manda.

Twitter and Instagram have connected me to some amazing swimmers, many in the UK (it's how I learned the word lido!!) and these women are no exception. Check out their London pool map and their open water swim map around London, and their swim cake study! It's enough to make me want to throw my suit in a bag and book a flight asap!

And thanks to a package in the post, Laura, Rhya and I get to be the Torontonian contingent of Team Mermaids! Purple caps abound!




  • Lindsay
  • Thursday, October 19, 2017

A Thanksgiving swim


It's Thanksgiving here in Canada, which usually means turkey and stuffing (my favourite) and mashed potatoes. But it's hot and sunny and we're having Thanksgiving brunch (aka croissants instead of turkey) this year instead.

As I was swimming today, I was reflecting on all that I have to be thankful for—my wonderful little family; my body that brought my daughter into the world earlier this year; Toronto's pools, the coffee I drank this morning with my love in a post-hike parking lot; the words I get to write; the sleep that sometimes happens, and sometimes doesn't; my dear, dear friends, old and new, who fill my heart and my days with such kindness and grace and hilarity (and chips); watching my kid and his cousin yell "I love you/I love you too" as they said goodbye tonight under a pink-orange sky; the brilliant swimmers I've met through this blog; and my brilliant, radiant, inspiring swimming ladies, who keep me grounded and remind me to breathe and swim and make things. My swimming pals who understand the healing power of water. We are joined by this love of lakes and pools and ponds and rivers. It buoys my heart daily.


To swimming friends and all of our adventures ahead...
  • Lindsay
  • Sunday, October 8, 2017

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