At Thanksgiving I loaded up the back of my car with many, many boxes from my grandmother's basement. Most of the boxes were university texts (that's what happens when you get two English degrees!) but there were also boxes of photos. Some in albums, some still in the envelopes from Blacks or Costco or Kodak. A lot of doubles. Remember when you'd order doubles, or triples, to put in the mail for friends? I miss those days...

From these albums and photos I gleaned three things:

1). I had terrible, terrible hair from 1999-2004. Like, TERRIBLE hair. Yikes.

2). I was a big fan of bizarre Value Village outfits. Enormous brown cords, sparkly 80s prom dresses, silver flared jackets with rhinestone buttons, etc.

3). I have done a lot of skinnydipping over the years. This isn't particularly surprising, given that I love swimming and don't always have a bathing suit, but there was definitely a few years in my early 20s where my penchant for skinny dipping was well documented.

An early May dip in Lake Temiskaming...just days after the ice had just melted.

Highlights include a chilly early May Lake Temiskaming dip when I was on tour with a dance company to Cobalt, Ontario, and the pinnacle of all skinnydipping events at Lake Louise, also while on tour with the same dance company. I'm not sure I've ever been so cold (and that rainy night in a soggy decidedly not waterproof tent didn't not warm things up).

Crazy? Maybe, but man, so much fun. 

I hereby declare next summer there will be more skinnydipping. Much more skinnydipping! Perhaps even tastefully documented skinnydipping!

  • Lindsay
  • Friday, October 30, 2015

That bit of necessary magic

I've been thinking a lot about learning to swim lately. In part because I've started taking my seven month old son to swimming lessons (where we chase after purple boats and he practices his signature inchworm kick) and partly because when I swim on Saturdays, there's a boy who practices his dives and straight armed front crawl with a tenacity I haven't seen in such a young person. He swims for nearly a full hour, back and forth and back and forth. It's so inspiring.

I taught swimming for years. I know that you start with bobs, that they help you get used to the water and get used to breathing out in the water, then you move on to floats (front first, then back) then glides (aka rocketships) and then windmill arms and kicking legs and the cadence of breathing every few strokes. But there is something else. Something that isn't in swim instructor manuals. There's a bit of magic thrown in there, along with some blind faith. Floating requires believing that water will in fact hold you at its surface. And it will. It does.

I don't remember the first time I floated, but I've seen others experience it and the closest thing I can liken it to is the first time your mom or dad lets go of the back of your bike. Like that, but with less speed and more chlorination. It is the closest thing to faith as I'll ever know.
  • Lindsay
  • Thursday, October 22, 2015

Swimming On Screen

A collection of swimming-on-screen snapshots, that for some reason or another, have left watermarks on our hearts.

The Graduate!
Classic example of how to win at pool life.

Stand By Me!
Umm... LEECHES! This scene is BURNED into my brain for life.

Because Olivia Pope's swimsuit A-Game!

The To Do List.
Red is a fantastic colour to swim in, and floating is everything. Here is the trailer!

Who hasn't sunk to the bottom to just get away from it all. Also Bill Murray for extra credit.

Mad Men.
Specifically The Summer Man (S04 E08). Don Draper swimming laps... enough said.

The above pool also triggered my obsession with the N.Y.A.C... will I ever get to swim there? And then after further research I discover that these pool scenes were actually shot at the Los Angeles Athletic Club! Another beautiful looking pool! So many pools... so little time!

Final note on this episode, when it first aired I read a review that mentioned how the pool scenes brought to mind John Cheever's short story "The Swimmer".... which I then looked up and read! It's fantastic, and I highly recommend giving it a go.

Romeo And Juliet!
Because ROMANCE in the water!

Plus this shot!

Garden State!
Why? Just look at this pool! And bonus points for Zach Braff's amazing and hilarious swimming performance!

Dirty Dancing!
Obvious choice: Dancing and water combined. And we mine as well add this swimming hole to the growing list, Lake Lure, North Carolina!

Honestly, this one left a "creepy" mark on my heart. Those cocoons make me shudder. But always loved the indoor pool house.

Y Tu Mama Tambien!
I've included three pics from this movie, that is chalked full of epic swimming scenes. This is also one of my favourite films. It's just so beautiful.

"Life is like the surf, so give yourself away like the sea."
This scene makes me well up inside. It captures that feeling of needing to just dive in... no matter what. I believe this is the beach at Puerto Escondido. And it is a swimming hole I have known... and it's magical.

 Where is this? I want to go here and just do endless laps.

The Affair!
This show is rife with swimming imagery and themes, including a fantastic title sequence, accompanied by a blazing Fiona Apple song. But Laura specifically pointed out the opening scene of the first episode... it's a great opener. Above... check out that image, the iconic swimmer! This is how I like to think I look swimming... not even close!

One more of The Affair!
Look at this pool! The tiles alone are imprinted in my mind forever!

I mean, come on... this is pretty fantastic... and we all imagined we were mer-people when we were younger... don't lie... you did!

Laurel Canyon!
I'm pretty sure there are a million pools in Los Angeles that are just out of this world. This is one of them. And every pool scene in this movie is so delicious! 

Take This Waltz
Shot right here in Toronto at the Trinity Recreational Centre! Probably the one movie that captures the flavour of what it's like to swim in Toronto. Also this aqua aerobics scene is an instant classic!

For the vintage swim fashion... and incredible indoor pool. This pool is located in a limestone mansion in New Jersey named Shadow Lawn.

Specifically, The Doody In The Pool scene. My husband suggested this one... he said this is one of his most memorable swimming scenes from a film. Yes, it is a hilarious and a fairly accurate depiction of what happens when someone fouls up the pool, but it's also really fabulous, don't you think? For me it evokes some nostalgic feelings of poolside parties, hot dog and Popsicle lunches and the scent of coconut tanning oil.... oh and lots of leathery bronze bodies and crazy 80's patterns! 

Turns out there WAS a pool on the roof... and it is amazing. Looking forward to booking a stay-cation here next summer in Toronto, and diving into this roof top pool

New Moon!
In my humble opinion, this is the most ridiculous water scene EVER! Good grief.

Now a request! What are you "watermarks", what swimming scenes are etched into your heart forever! Please share so we can keep growing this list!
  • Rhya
  • Tuesday, October 20, 2015


I floated tonight, in one of those sensory deprivation tanks

It was the first time my neck—
all knotted up and sharing the weight on my shoulders—
has ever really let go

if I go again
if I keep floating…
maybe my heart—
all locked up and covered in armour—
maybe eventually it'll let go too


Illustration by Belhoula Amir, another piece of swimming art that I love.
  • Laura
  • Saturday, October 17, 2015 pages: The Kid Edition

It turns out, I have a water baby, which isn't surprising, given water has always been an underlying theme to his dad and I being together, he was born a Pisces, and loved swimming, even in utero. But the half hour of chlorinated, overheated indoor swimming a week isn't nearly enough. 
And so, we read about swimming, about water, whenever we can.

Our current favourites:

Swimming Swimming, illustrated by Gary Clement

We all know the song (sorry, you'll now be singing it under your breath for days!) but this illustrated version is so wonderful. It captures the excitement of heading to the pool, complete with putting your bag in a locker, and taking a pre-dip shower. And then as the song begins, it becomes a Where's Waldo-esque swimming pool. The "fancy diving too" page really is the best!

I love the little boy has spaghetti and meatballs, and feeds his fish after a long afternoon in the pool.

Swimmy by Leo Lionni
This was a gem from my childhood (having a kindergarten teacher as a mom makes your childhood library full of incredible books!) 

I so often think about Swimmy as the eye in mass of tiny red fish, but I had forgotten about how incredible the illustrations are until picking it up again with my little guy. Makes me want to put goggles on and find an ocean...

This Is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen
This book is amazing. In it, a wee fish has a hat that is not his. He took it from a much larger fish. The wee fish has a plan to get away with taking the's hilarious and beautiful and dark and did I say beautiful?

On a side note, there is some seriously amazing seaweed illustration in This Is Not My Hat and Swimmy:

  • Lindsay
  • Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Howl In The Pool!

Why howl at the moon, when you can howl in the pool!

And the same could be said for all other bodies of water as well, such as ponds, rivers, lakes, oceans, creeks… you get the picture!

I’ve been working on a list of pools of water I would love to explore this year, that are somewhat close to home… home being Ontario. I’m also researching my dream destinations like Iceland, Chile and France, I’m just not sure I can get to all these places in one year. But who knows, never say never right?! It’s always good to have goals.

But until then here is my mini list of close-ish to home, bodies of water I would like to howl in next year:

1. The Centennial Aquatic Centre in Collingwood. I think I can get to this pool before this year is up. Look at this place… are the doors raised in the summer? Is this place for real? It looks awesome. How have I not been here yet!

2. Digging the look of the Grand River Conservation area outdoor pool! This one shall have to wait till next summer though.

3. The Elora Quarry was suggested to me by a good friend. Looks outstanding. Definitely road trip worthy! See you in July!

4. Going to try go to Tobermory and get my Grotto on again, because it’s ridiculously beautiful, and turquoise water. TURQUOISE WATER!

5. The Varsity Pool, at UofT in Toronto. Can I even get into this pool? Probably not, I’m not a student… but I’ve always wanted to try swimming here, or at least in the Benson Pool; The smaller younger sister to the Varsity.

I would love any road trip worthy suggestions as well! Any best kept secrets, or sublime swimming holes you would like to share, please howl them at me!
  • Rhya
  • Tuesday, October 6, 2015 pages

It's a bit too chilly to be swimming in swimming holes these days, the outdoor pools are closed, so the next best thing is reading about swimming!

Some of my favourite watery reads:

Swimming Studies by Leanne Shapton
This is everything I've always wanted in a book about swimming. There's a narrative that propels the book -- the author, Leanne Shapton's long-time relationship to swimming, from her younger years training for the Olympic swim trials, to her work now. 

Giving a fascinating glimpse into the private realms of swimming, and drawing, Shapton tells an intimate story of suburban adolescence, family ties, and the solitary underwater moments that now ground her artistic habits.

Theres's also an illustration of all of the pools she's swam in and it is the most perfect thing I've ever seen.

Great interview here!

Arguments with the Lake by Tanis Rideout

I am in love with Marilyn Bell, so when I heard about Tanis Rideout's poetry collection about Bell (who at 16 was the first person to swim across Lake Ontario) and her rival, Shirley Campbell, who fell short in her attempt to cross the lake, I knew I'd be a fan. Rideout deftly weaves the lives of these two swimmers together. It makes me want to jump in Lake Ontario (minus the moray eels, thank you...)

The Swim Team by Miranda July (in the collection, No One Belongs Here More Than You)
It's not a book, but it's one of the most perfect short stories I've ever heard (on the radio the other afternoon). In the story, the narrator invites a group of retirees to her apartment for swimming lessons. There is no pool, but instead, the students lying down on the kitchen floor, their faces immersed in bowls of water. 

There's a short film made of the story, but I haven't watched it as the image of elderly folk practising their dives into a bed are too perfect to mar with external visuals.

#theswimmingbook (title forthcoming) by Lisa Congdon

This book isn't out yet, but based on the illustrations Lisa Congdon has posted on her Instagram feed and blog, it is already one of my favourites! It will be comprised of essays, art, profiles of swimmers (Lisa put out an all-call awhile back!), photographs, vintage swimming stuff, hand lettered quotes and history!

Some more swim-lit over at the 49th Shelf!
  • Lindsay
  • Monday, October 5, 2015

The Colour of Water

The colour of water. We have pencil crayons and paint chips named after it.

We admire it when we arrive and praise it for being "that" colour — that colour being determined by your geography. Mediterranean Blue might be your favourite blue in all the world while you are in Santorini, but then forgotten and overshadowed by Caribbean Blue when you are swimming in it in Aruba.

We marvel when it mirrors and absorbs all of the colours of a sky and its surroundings. Sometimes it's a peacock sky with puffy white clouds suspended. Other times it's a quilt of stunning sunset pink.

In our mind's eye, water is a colour.

But isn't it crazy that no matter what landscape you're in... when you pick it up in your hand, the colour of water is always the same. There is no pencil crayon called "Clear".

And then I wonder, if I am made of 75% water as told in science class and countless issues of Shape magazine... what colour am I?
  • Laura
  • Friday, October 2, 2015

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