Wednesday, August 10, 2016

We 3 Swimmers recently went on our first swimming road trip together. We bailed early on work, piled into Laura's car, turned up the stereo and and drove our carload of chips and wine gums to Chelsea, Quebec to stay with our wonderful friend & Quebec correspondent Patrice (pictured above). It was an epic weekend, CHOCK FULL of our favourite things and none of us will ever forget it.

The Big Deal thing that happened, was that we went CLIFFJUMPING. Yes. We did this. Below you'll find our individual stories, and photographic proof, about how it all went down.

But first, it seems so fitting to publish this group piece about JUMPING IN today – because today is the First-Year Anniversary of Swimming Holes We Have Known!!! It's hard to believe how much has happened in a year just because of this blog. Our stories have had well over 25,000 reads!!!!! We've been featured on CBC radio. We have Olympic swimming heroes sharing our posts. We starred in a short film in a secret pool. We now regularly use the words Docktail and Rocktail in our vocabularies. We go on road trips to find swimming holes, individually and collectively. We have a legion of fans (well, a small legion) sending in their best imitation photos. And people all over social media are now using our hashtag to share their swimmy moments, #swimmingholeswehaveknown.

I think we 3 all agree that the best decision was that we just jumped in. And that we did it together. We thank you for being here with us.

Without further ado, we give you Cliffjumping: The Swimming Holes We Have Known Edition.

* * * * *


I am not a cliffjumper. I am a cautious klutz, so I never really saw cliffjumping fitting into my lineup of life skills. I mean I can dive in off a not so high diving board, or a rickety raft, that's not an issue. But cliff jumping... that has always remained one of those things I wanted to have the guts to do... but simply could never dig deep enough to find them when the opportunity arose. I remember camping in Killarney one summer, our site was situated almost directly beside the infamous cliffjumping site at the park. Smooth rocky Canadian cliffs overlooking that crazy see-through blue water, piled high with kids just throwing themselves in, over and over again. It looked like so much fun, and there I was tip toeing down towards the water's edge, to scrape my knees on the rocks as I very ungracefully tried to slide in. Why couldn't I just jump?

Then before we took off on our inaugural swim trip, I was visiting my dad and family in Gananoque. My brothers and I took a quick dip at the local berm, where I was teased for being too cautious about jumping in off the higher than usual dock (which I eventually did... flailing cannonball style). And then they razzed me again for chickening out of cliff jumping at the locks we visited up the road. And again, I felt that same irritation... why couldn't I just jump?

So when we hit the Gatineau River for our swimming trip the following weekend and our intrepid host Patrice gave us a tour of swimming options and then mentioned the potential of cliffjumping... my ears instantly perked up. She was looking for someone to join her, as she had yet to muster the courage to take the plunge along with all the ten-year-olds who apparently don't come programmed with self-preserving fear like us late thirtysomethings. And that was all I needed, a kindred spirit to snap me out of my fear. A positive push and assurance I was surrounded by strength, in the smiles of my fellow swimmers. The lever in my brain snapped on to "JUMP IN" and that was that. I knew I would take the plunge.

And the very next day I did! And it was worth every single second of excruciating tummy tumbling fear before I stepped off that cliff and fell arms waving, screams riding the wind, and toes curling up towards the sun. The impact was shocking, the water was warm, and I felt alive. And I did it again. And again. And again.

So watch out Kilarney, I'm coming for you next!

(Bonus highlight was playing some ridiculous game where you yell an animal name at your fellow cliffjumper while they are jumping and then must try to emulate said animal in the air. It was a lot harder than it sounded. I believe I almost got a lion's roar in there somewhere... but probably sounded more like an screeching hyena.)

* * * * *


I am not a jumper-inner. I'm just not. I linger on the ladder, wade to my knees and generally take forever to get in. Jumping in was THE WORST part about lifeguarding and I chose back crawl whenever I could while I was on a swim team.

So when our Swimming Holes We Have Known road trip landed on the edge of the Gatineau River, I was all set to take the ladder in. It was cold and grey and we had been driving for hours and needed to eat something that wasn't wine gums/IKEA chips – there was no time for my ladder-taking shenanigans. Laura stood on the dock and insisted we hold hands, all four of us, and counted down from three. I had no choice. I jumped.

I didn't love it, but I did it. And it was really the only way to get into the freezing cold river.

The next day, I still wasn't convinced I was a jumper-inner. That was a one-off, that pre-dinner dock jump. Except our wonderful host and Swimming Holes We Have Known Quebec correspondent, Patrice, REALLY wanted to jump off a cliff. All the kids in the area do it and she decided it was her summer to join them.

Rhya went first because she is fearless and brave like nobody's business. And she went in from the second-highest point. Patrice went next, taming those butterflies and brave as all get out. I wasn't ready for the second highest rock. I could do the lowest one, I decided, my heart pounding in my throat. It took a few countdowns before I could do it, but I did. I jumped! And it wasn't as shocking or bracing or terrifying as I had thought. It was even exhilarating.

Taking the rope up the rock was fun (I felt like a kid!), and then after watching an 11- and 10-year-old launch themselves off the rock with abandon, I decided to try the second highest point. It was less fun – a bit too much air time for me, but I did it and I am now officially a jumper-inner.

Who has time for ladder lingering when there is swimming to be done...

* * * * * *


Let me preface this by saying that those close to me who are familiar with my fear of falling have always been impressed by how loudly – and how many times – I can scream during one jump, or during one amusement park ride. So... historically, a cliffjumper I am NOT.

I think the last time I jumped from a great height was when I was 16 years old and visiting my cousins in Texas. I don't remember the particulars of it, only that I stood for a Very Long Time looking over the precipice working up the nerve to take the leap, and that when I finally hit the surface, pretty much every part of my body that touched the water did its own spectacular and individual version of a bellyflop.

So when Patrice proposed that we jump off the cliffs alongside the Gatineau River, my inner child threw a wee tantrum and I trudged quietly up the hill at the back of our little swim-pack, content to let the others go first and wondering if there was any way I could get out of it.

But my turn came. There was no pressure (the courage of these lovely women was all I needed). And I jumped.

It wasn't so bad. I can't say that I will from here on be an official cliff jumper, but I DID earn my adult swim badge for Cliff Jumping, for which I am pretty darn proud... so who knows? We'll see where the swim-ventures lead.

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