Rainy day swimming

The only place I can swim today is a puddle in the driveway – a single stroke wide, with a gasoline rainbow separating the deep end from the shallow end.
  • Lindsay
  • Thursday, June 29, 2017

The first Sunnyside swim of 2017!

After a less-than-successful first attempt at swimming outdoors last Saturday, followed by a feverish Sunday trapped in bed while the sun shone, I FINALLY made it to Sunnyside this weekend – my very favourite pool to swim in. I had butterflies in my stomach, I was so excited. It felt like Christmas morning, but with chlorine instead of presents under the tree.

The pool was fouling-free and sun-full and I got there right when it opened.

After a lifetime of taking FOREVER to get in the water, my swimming ladies encouraged me to jump in last summer, and so what better way to enter the 2017 summer swimming season than with the biggest jump I could muster.

("Mama jump in swimming pool!" my toddler is still saying. I beam every time!)

The fast lane was SO fast – with a U of T swimmer who was tearing it up, and an older man who apparently was on the national team in the 70s – that I had to marvel at their speed one lane over in the medium lane. I will never tire of watching fast, efficient swimmers. That and watching the across the floor jumping combinations in a dance class are two of my favourite things to witness.

The water didn't have the thick layer of sunscreen like it will by August, but was crisp and perfectly turquoise, warmer than the air. My mind drifted and rambled as it only can during a wonderful swim and when I was done, I made sure to float on my back in the centre of the deep end, letting the huge blue sky full my lungs.

And if that wasn't wonderful enough, I ran into a guard who recognized me from my very pregnant swimming days before I had my daughter a few months ago. He had been guarding the day before I gave birth and got a glimpse of my little girl in her stroller.

It's been thunderstorming ever since (grrrrr), but I have my fingers crossed for sunny swimming days ahead!

  • Lindsay
  • Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Yesterday/ Today

yesterday's lake was quantum mechanics.
a whale-shaped rock.
a red guitar.
a too-shy bathing suit.
a new romance (not mine).


today's lake was a reminder.
it was not gentle.

  • Laura
  • Sunday, June 25, 2017

The Fouling: A sad swimming tale and a cocktail

I must've done something to piss off the swimming gods.

Granted, I got to talk about swimming in Toronto on CBC Radio’s Metro Morning, but after that the week went downhill. There was food poisoning, a lot of vomiting in the hospital bathroom, exhausting solo parenting and not a lot of sleep. But it was all going to be okay because the pools were opening on Saturday and I was going to swim outdoors at my beloved Sunnyside Pool.

I couldn't swim the minute the pool opened – kids, scheduling, etc., etc. – but I finally got my kids fed and down for simultaneous naps (!!), packed my bags, hopped on my bike and biked through High Park. I was so gloriously excited for the first outdoor dip of the season.

When I got to the waterfront trail, I saw an older man strutting along in a Speedo and sandals, a towel around his neck. I asked him how the water was.

“Wonderful,” he replied, “but the pool is closed.”

“Closed?” I asked, bewildered. It wasn’t supposed to close for another two hours.

“Closed,” he said motioning that someone had vomited in the pool. They would re-open in an hour, he promised.

At 3. The pool was supposed to re-open at 3, except my two-month-old would need to nurse at 3:30.

Not gonna lie, I sat on the to beach (grateful I packed a picnic blanket!) and I almost cried. It was a terribly self-pity moment – the week had been so long and so hard and this swim was the only thing keeping me together.

I stared at the lake that looked like an ocean and made a sad Instagram story and eavesdropped on a first date, and watched a couple do mesmerizing things with hula hoops.

I tried to read my book as the sky darkened and got two texts – one from my sister and one from my fella. They’d both heard thunder.

And thunder means lightning and pools have to close.

I called Sunnyside (at 2:56), but they were still opening at 3. Whew! I biked over as fast as I could. I was going to be the first one in.

Except when I got there, there was a lifeguard standing at the door. “Thunder,” she said over and over again to *very * disappointed would-be swimmers.

I couldn’t hold back. I actually sobbed on the beach. In the rain. It was so sad and pathetic it almost makes me laugh now (almost…I’m not quite over it).

I biked home in the torrential rain, thunder rumbling, lightning spiking. I was actually relieved it was an actual thunderstorm and not just a wayward grumble.

I got home soaked and freezing. My fella had a pile of towels at the ready and handed me a hot toddy.

Of course the sun came out later, and the pool reopened (after my kid-free window had closed, of course), so I decided the only thing to do was make a happy hour cocktail to commemorate this ridiculousness of the afternoon.

May I present, “The Fouling” – a dark and stormy (ginger beer, rum and lime) with a chocolate garnish:

  • Lindsay
  • Monday, June 19, 2017

A Swimming Holes We Have Known approved summer swimming pool checklist

The pools (well, some pools!) open this coming Saturday and I'll be chatting about swimming in Toronto on CBC Radio's Metro Morning on June 13th at 7:25am. I could not be more excited! 

Ten outdoor pools are opening on the 17th on evenings and weekends (including my beloved Sunnyside Pool!) and the rest of the pools open on June 24th (evenings and weekends) and then it's a swimming bonanza when summer schedules go into effect on Friday June 30th!

Here's a list of all the City pools and their opening dates (and links to each pool's page!)

In case it's been a while since you last swam outdoors, here's a Swimming Holes We Have Known approved summer swimming pool checklist:

Don't forget...
- your suit
- a quarter for a locker (and an extra in case the locker eats the first one/a fellow swimmer has forgotten one)
- flip flops
- waterproof sunscreen
- sunglasses
- goggles
- towel(s)
- underpants (Laura made this handy reminder)
- a book for on-deck reading (Note: no newspapers allowed!)
- extra hair elastics if you're of the long-haired persuasion
- a water bottle
- a small Ziploc baggie for your phone
- extra swim diapers if you're swimming with a toddler
- a plastic bag for post-swim wet suits/towels
- swim snacks for the post-swim hungries (Rhya's go-to is Doritos. I'm a fan of the swim biscuit)

Sunnyside Pool is full and ready to go!!

  • Lindsay
  • Monday, June 12, 2017

The generosity of water: Jessica J. Lee's swim memoir, Turning

In the weeks after my daughter was born, I wasn’t allowed to swim. I missed it desperately though and those eight swimless postpartum weeks felt like months. BUT, one Saturday, I was hauling children and car seats and emptied boxes of raisins out of the car and a woman showed up on my front lawn – a friend of swimmer/writer Jessica J. Lee, who had a book for me – Lee's swim memoir Turning: A Year in the Water, sent all the way from Berlin.

I e-met Lee months ago through Twitter (thanks Shawn!) and have been inspired by her swim-ventures ever since. I was fascinated and dumbstruck by her tweets about swimming in the coldest days of winter, packing a hammer and a toque (and I interviewed her here!)

"I'm at home in the water, and I'm not scared to be alone here," she writes.

In a single year, Lee decided to swim in 52 lakes around Berlin, in part to heal her broken heart, in part to reclaim the geography as her own. There is something so healing about submerging yourself in a different element – I can't count the number of times I have swam through deep grief, my goggles filling with tears I would have to empty in the shallow end. It is the closest thing to meditation as I have ever known and has saved me on too many occasions to count – broken hearts, lost loved ones, a failed dance career, debilitating injuries, postpartum chaos…

"There's a kind of offering in the generosity of water holding you afloat. In the way water holds feeling, how the body is most alive submerged and enveloped, there's the fullness of grace given freely,” Lee writes. Yes yes yes, I nodded while reading. Yes yes.

The rules for the project were: no swimming pools, no wetsuits. All the lakes had to be reachable by public transport, bike, or on foot. All had to be reasonable distances (i.e. day trips) from central Berlin.

Lee writes with depth and eloquence, weaving together her personal relationship to swimming and lakes, to the complications relationships of the geography of the lakes she swims in (swimming in lakes near former Nazi bunkers, and a lake that was once divided into East and West Germany by a line through its centre). It is a beautiful meditation on swimming and water and what it is to heal and find your strength once again

I am a fair-weather swimmer when it comes to outdoor swimming. I'm a summer swimmer, and even then it can take me forever to get in the water. I’ve never once even considered doing a polar bear dip, but Lee talks about the endorphin rush of swimming in the winter lakes, literally hammering her way through the ice, toque on, counting out her strokes, and I would find myself reading these winter passages faster, wanting to get the same rush vicariously through her winter swimming. I didn’t ever think that swimming in a frozen lake could be romanticized, but I caught myself dreaming of a trip to Germany next winter – toque, suit and hammer packed…

In reading Turning, I learned more about water than I have all my life – the physiology of lakes, the biology of lakes, how the temperature changes, how wind and depth and algae determine the quality of the water.

Until we three swimmers were swimming in the Gatineau River last summer, I hadn’t thought much about the different textures of water, but Rhya was fascinated by how silky the dark river water felt (turns out it comes from the many, many sunken and decomposing logs at the bottom of the river). And of course Lee explores the different textures of the water she swims in. “The water I grew up with was hard, cutting...the lake a whetted blade,” she writes of the Canadian lakes of her childhood. “The water in Berlin has a softness to it. Maybe it's the sands buffing the edges of the water like splinters from a beam. It slips over you like a blanket.”

“There's a safety in this feeling. In the lakes here, there's a feeling of enclosure and security that Canada can't replicate.”

(This is where it took all of my will power not to buy a plane ticket to Berlin…)

After swimming through heartbreak, three seasons in, Lee develops a friendship with another wild swimmer, Anne. Their connection is deep and generous in a way that swimming friendships are. I’m not exactly sure why, but swimming friendships are special, different somehow than other types of friendships. And as the two of them sought out the last few lakes in the 52-lake year, their friendship deepening and widening, the lakes: "became points of light in the landscape, generous, steady and incalculably beautiful.”

Jessica’s coming to Toronto this summer and we’re going to go swimming. I truly can’t wait.

You can buy the book here, or at your fav indie book shop!

Tuesday, July 11 from 6-8pm

  • Lindsay
  • Tuesday, June 6, 2017

The Countdown to the First Outdoor Swim of the Summer

This winter was cold, gray and loooonnnnnnng.

I sometimes plan a trip somewhere south to shake the February blues, but this year I was working on a big project – the launch of www.reggie.bike – and I couldn't get away from my design shackles.

So, I decided instead to pass the cold months with a countdown to the first outdoor swim of the summer -- arguably the greatest swim of the year, especially in Ontario. My countdown was a #tbt series on Instagram, revisiting of some of the best & worst swimming holes I have known in the past.

For those of you who missed them on Insta, here's the recap... and at the end... well let's just say Summer 2017 has BEGUN... with a SPLASH!!


1. March 23 #TBT -- Provence:

That time we all lived at Poor Peter's Chateau in Provence. (*this is Chateau de Massillon in Uchaux. Spectacular place. Was there doing a photoshoot with Rob Howard for Butterfield & Robinson. Chris T was an exceptional sport and dove into this pool about a million times for the camera. Poor, poor Chris. Luckily, CHAMPAGNE afterwards.)


2. March 28 #TBT -- Puglia:
This one had ancient olive trees and palm covered chairs to fall asleep in. Puglia, Italy. (*Can't recall the name of the hotel at the moment. But it was the first time I had burrata and I. WENT. BANANAS. (Photo: Rob Howard)


3. April 6 #TBT -- Tulum:

This was Tulum. I went on a retreat to this beautiful place called Amansala, for which they refurbished Pablo Escobar's former beach house. Magnificent place. (Relocated due to sad and terrifying mafia story two weeks after I left). Wish I was reading and jumping into those waves from that swinging bed today....


4. April 12 #TBT -- Santorini:

This swimming hole was a real-life fantasy. The infinity pool at the Perivolas Hotel on Santorini overlooks where they say the Lost Atlantis dwells. Arguably the most beautiful place in the world. I can hardly believe I came home.  


5. April 20 #TBT -- Baja:

This was Baja and you weren't really supposed to swim on this particular beach. There was a menacing Undertoad, as Garp would say. (Plus schools of stingrays and the occasional dolphin / whale). But we did swim here, just briefly enough to be reminded of the awesome power of Big Water. Big beach. Big sky. Big feels. I loved Baja.  


6. April 27 #TBT -- Marrakech:

This is Jnane Tamsna, in the Palmerie just outside of Marrakech, which I ended up at because Carmen and I had a impulsive late night bidding session on LuxuryLink a few years ago... oops! Gorgeous, elegant place, look it up! (Photo credit: Hip Hotels)

7. May 4 #TBT -- Aruba:

This was Aruba, where I went with my mom a couple of Februaries ago. I was extremely exhausted when I got there so I slept on a lounge chair everyday with this as my view and a few times a day I would slip in and swim back and forth beside that breakwall. It was quiet and so beautiful. UNTIL around 5pm when the tide went out and these little holes in the sand underwater would appear and all these toilet-papery ribbons filled the bay... took a moment to realize they were CREATURES of some kind (eeeek!!!) but we just took that as our signal that happy hour was upon us and we'd go for a cocktail and get ready for dinner. 


8. May 11 #TBT -- Costa Rica:

This was Costa Rica. I stayed in this nice teeny hotel owned by a Canadian couple with a good wine cellar, and you had to walk down (and then back UP!) this steep hill to get to the beach. I regret to inform you that I did not have a good time at this swimming hole... it wasn't its fault though -- it had a great beach shack with cold beer and fish sandwiches, and I read an excellent book there (The Shadow of the Wind). But my companion was really mean to me on that trip and you all know that I don't like meanies. So, I guess I need a Do Over, Costa Rica... and I have a plan... 


8. May 18 #TBT -- Tuscany:

My fave day of the week, the Swimming Hole Countdown! with a look back to Tuscany and the insane view from the infinity pool at winemaker Roberto Cipresso's agriturismo.


9. May 24 #TBT -- Lake of Bays:

The big question of the day is: will the Swimming Hole Countdown end this weekend??? Will the Paper Crown Queen end up IN THE LAKE IN MAY for the second year in a row?? Stay tuned... but in the meantime, THIS Swimming Hole I Have Known is the Lake of Bays which I have loved for many reasons... there is a very nice boat from which to jump off the back, and that same very nice boat often has margaritas hand-delivered to it while we read twin copies of the same book and I ask my friend Don all the questions I can think of.


10. And the countdown brings us to Georgian Bay, May 28, 2017:


Parka: 1. Bathing suit: 0. 

Wool socks with sandals: 1. Bathing suit: 0.


Found in cottage closet: wetsuits circa 1983. And our inner Charlie's Angels.  


WE ARE IN!!!!  

May 28, 2017. Bone Island, Georgian Bay. The water temperature was below 60° C.

Summer has officially begun. Get in!

  • Laura
  • Friday, June 2, 2017

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