fitness · season transitions · swimming

Last summer swim: a post in photos

It’s officially fall now, and usually that means my swim season is over. However, inspired by fellow bloggers, the Book Why We Swim, and the FB group Boston Open Water Swimming, I’m going to see how far into the fall/winter I can continue heading into the water. Maybe I can just keep swimming, just keep swimming…

Our friend Dory the fish, saying "just keep swimming".
Our friend Dory the fish, saying “just keep swimming”.

Last week, Norah and I went to Walden for our last official summer swim. It was a gorgeous day, low-mid 70s/22-23C and sunny. For those of you who haven’t been to Walden Pond in Concord, Massachusetts, it is a very beautiful place, well-designed and well-maintained. This is important, because it is hugely popular with locals and tourists. About 500,000 people visit each year, according to this article in Smithsonian. However, the capacity is strictly monitored, and the Pond closes to new visitors several times a day on busy days in the summer, reopening when the numbers drop.

Here you can see the well-maintained parking areas and walkways, accessible to lots of people.

With utility comes a definite New England aesthetic.

When Norah and I crossed the street (which has a huuuge set of pedestrian signs and lights), we walked down the wide concrete path to the main beach. In the summer there are lifeguards and ropes for the swimming areas.

Our favorite swim spot is on the other side of the pond. On the way there we pass other people in their favorite spots, and see lots of action on the water.

Here’s what our favorite swimming spot looks like.

After swimming, chatting, snacking and addressing the problems of the world, Norah and I return the way we came. The path goes all the way around the pond, in case you want to check out the other side. Lots of people swim from there, too.

I finally bought a wetsuit– a shorty one– and I’ve got neoprene booties when I need them (still have gloves to purchase). This fall will be my first foray into colder water swimming. But there’s nothing like heading into the water in summer, the cool water instantly changing your perspective on a hot (and possibly trying) day. This was my last one of those for while.

What about you, dear readers? What activities are you wrapping up or changing gear for this fall? We’d love to hear from you.

canoe · fitness · swimming

The great cover up of 2021

I’ve been worried about the sun and skin cancer for awhile now and I’ve written on the blog a fair bit about it. See here and here and here, for example. But I’ve also struggled with the push to have women dress more modestly, especially the idea that older women, and larger women, should just cover up our bodies and hide.

I’m a fan of bikinis and bike shorts and here on the blog I’ve worried about swim dresses and running skirts. But this year I hit a turning point. Another friend had a skin cancer scare. It’s also been a hotter than usual summer with blazing sun a lot of the time. There’s only so much sunscreen an active, outdoorsy person can wear.

I’ve decided I don’t care why people think I’m wearing them. I’m not ashamed of my body. I’m not trying to hide it from view. I just would like not die any earlier than I have to. Even aside from death, skin cancer isn’t much fun.

I broke down and bought two super, lightweight (very cool) outdoor active shirts and long pants for paddling. I’m wearing them in the pictures above on our recent family canoe trip. They also helped with the mosquito issue. Bonus!

I also bought a swim skirt and long sleeved rash guard shirt (spf 50) for hanging about in and around the outdoor swimming pool. They’re actually great for swimming in and for hanging around the pool having super soaker battles with a 7 year old.

I’m calling both purchases a success.

I’m also getting a mammogram on my birthday so I’m doing my bit for cancer prevention this month.

Sam and her new swimming duds
221 in 2021 · fitness · swimming

Morning swim in the real world (guest post)

I love the 221 workouts in 2021 group. They are active, honest, fun, and very good online companions to have along my way to 221. I’m at 145 or so now, and I think I’ll make 221 by the end of December.

Lydia– one of the 221ers– is already at 202, so she’s practically staring 221 in the face. Go, Lydia, go!

But you know, workouts aren’t all endorphins and triumphant Youtube coverage. She wrote an account of what her actual swim was like on Monday morning. I edited it lightly to fit the blog format. Read, enjoy and relate.

-catherine

Heeeere’s Lydia:

Great–I’ve been able to book swimming at 7.30 am, on Thursday. Tony (my patient husband), says “Good”.

The night before: Check I’ve got goggles, ear plugs, hat, underwear, towels, shampoo etc, car keys and 20p [pence, for those of us not in the UK] for the locker.

Next morning 6.30 a.m. : check the above, dress ready to swim, lose car keys, find them, drink tea. Oh no– its 6.50! Get in car, check purse and phone. Okay, I have them. Drive to baths.

7.10am: arrive, lock car, check car is locked.

7.15am: select locker, undress. But first lay out ear plugs, hat goggles, glasses case & 20p Put 20p in lock, put ear plugs in, put glasses in case, find hat. Close locker.

Can’t see the number, can’t see to do up the wrist band. Oh where are the goggles? “Hi”, says the guy about my age next to me. “Can you see my glasses?” “No”, I reply. “My glasses are in the locker.” “Nor can I”, says another gent.

We find the glasses. “What number is my locker?” I ask. We all peer at the door. “Number 23!” they say in triumph.

We join the queue waiting to swim. We swim, and then our 45 minutes is up. Now, which is my locker I think. I go to the showers and peer at the bottles of hair stuff. Now which is shampoo and which is the other stuff? Can’t see, so take pot luck. I need a rest by the time I’m dressed. But I wouldn’t miss my morning swim for the world.

Readers, does this approximate any of your workouts? What do you lose, need, get help with as you do what you do? Let us know.

p.s. The cover photo is Canadian Olympic swimmer Maggie MacNeil, who won a gold medal but had trouble seeing the results without her glasses. This makes me love her even more.

covid19 · kids and exercise · swimming

Starting them young, the pandemic swimming edition

One of the things I was most excited about when tiny human was born was eventually introducing him to water by means of baby swimming. What I had in mind was more or less what the cutie in this video is doing: splish splash!

Video of a baby splashing around in the water.

But alas, tiny human is a pandemic baby. For the longest time, pools were closed altogether, and even now many places that usually offer baby swimming courses still don’t. The few that do are ludicrously oversubscribed (or offer their classes during working hours, which – baby activities during working hours in general – pisses me off no end and is a topic for a separate rant). So, no baby swimming for us. Out of all the baby-related things the pandemic has deprived us of, this is the one that makes me really sad.

I’m still determined for this baby to be an aquatic baby. I watch the websites offering baby swimming courses like a hawk to see if they’re coming back on. We’ve taken Mini to the pool a few times (loved it until he got cold) and he tested the sea while on holiday (he was sceptical but loved messing around with his uncle and aunt in the water). We have a paddling pool on the terrace we were hoping to get a lot of use out of, but our summer has been horrible and it’s been too cold most of the time. So we still mostly splash around in the bath, which is… not quite the same.

Overall, introducing baby to water isn’t going as swimmingly (see what I did there?) as I’d hoped. Still, I’m not too worried yet, he’s tiny and will hopefully have plenty of opportunity to get wet. I do worry about older kids who haven’t been able to learn swimming or continue. From what I can tell with my lifesaving club, which cautiously started practice again in early summer, many of them aren’t coming back after such a long break. My colleague’s daughter, who used to swim regularly, became a body-conscious teenager during Covid and refuses to go back to the pool. My heart breaks for her. And all that’s without even thinking what it will mean for drowning incident numbers if several cohorts worth of kids aren’t learning to swim (properly).

I don’t quite know where this post is going, just that I’m sad for all the kids who don’t have the chance to enjoy the pleasure of getting in the water now. Ugh 😦

fitness · swimming

Slothful swimming is happy swimming

This has been the summer of swimming for me. Not just swimming aspiration (as every summer is), but actual swimming. In lakes and oceans, and today, in my friend Kay’s fancy apartment complex pool.

We’ve written a lot about swimming on the blog this year. I mean A LOT. Certainly a lot more than usual, and a lot more than I recall from previous years. Why? Partly it’s a function of what our bloggers are into. But I think there’s something more going on here.

For me, swimming during the pandemic has been one of the few times I’ve felt total respite, a complete break from the fear and worry and fussing about disease risk, physical fitness, mental health or isolation. Whether I swim alone or with others, I’m aware of being held by the water, of moving under my own power, of gliding and submerging and floating, of breathing and holding my breath and then breathing again.

I joined the Boston Open Water Swimming Facebook group this year to get tips on where and when to swim in fresh and salt water around here. Thanks to them I got my ISHOF swim buoy and have been using it happily.

But (there’s always a but, isn’t there): I’m not swimming long distances. I’m not swimming fast, either. I haven’t even donned my swim cap and goggles to do any serious swimming (yet). At the ocean, I’ve gone in with friends or family, jumping waves, diving, floating, laughing and letting the surf swirl me around. In lakes, I’ve been wading in, heading for deeper water (my swim buoy following right behind me), and floating, treading water, swimming, diving, and enjoying the feel of being between water and air.

Then I saw this video, posted by on my FB group. This sloth is my summer-of-2021 swim mascot. Watch at least a little bit and you’ll see what I mean.

Happy sloth swimming slothfully and happily.

Yes, I am a slothful swimmer. Slow and steady and cheery and grinning and untroubled and unhurried.

We can learn a lot from animals doing sports in a slow and jaunty way.

Check out our penguin yoga post here: Penguin yoga galore

Wanna see a post of a wombat running? We have one here. Run like a Wombat!

Readers, are doing engaging in slow sports this summer? Tell me about it. In the meantime, come on in, the water’s fine!

fitness · swimming

Swim buoys: good for safety and fun

Friday was a beautiful summer day in Boston– sunny, mid-70s F/24C– so my friend Norah and did what one must on a day like today– we went swimming.

Walden Pond (yes, that Walden Pond) is 11 miles from my house, and is a swimmer’s paradise. The pond is big, deep, clean, and has all sorts of half-hidden shoreline coves where you can set down your towel and snacks and head into the water.

We did just that, but with one added item: our brand-new swim buoys. They are now required for anyone who swims outside of the roped-off guarded swim areas at the pond. There was a big kerfuffle over open-water swimming at Walden this summer, and the current rule is the third iteration after the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation abruptly banned all open-water swimming there.

I don’t mind at all using a swim buoy. They’re not expensive, you can put car keys and a phone inside them (they’re part dry bag and part floatation device!), and they make swimmers super-visible to kayakers, fishing folks and anyone on shore.

Here’s Norah, setting hers up:

Norah, sealing up her swim buoy (an early birthday present from me).
Norah, sealing up her swim buoy (an early birthday present from me).

Once I got mine all set up, I got directions on which way the water was.

Catherine, with swim buoy, pointing to confirm the location of the pond.

All that remained was to go on in, as the water was fine.

Catherine, wading in with buoy, ready for some safe swimming bliss.

Turns out, lots of people who are casual but very comfortable open-water swimmers also purchased swim buoys. So, I had colorful company out in deep water before Norah joined me.

Is there anything lovelier than this? Blue sky, puffy clouds, clean fresh water, and day-glow swim buoy following you around while you swim? I’m on the right, btw.

Honestly, I don’t mind it at all, and it makes very good sense for those of us who swim in open water.

So readers, what about you? Do you use a swim buoy? Are they required where you live and swim? Have you been in the water yet this summer? Do you want to meet me there next Friday? Let me know.

racism · sexism · swimming

Dear Swimming, Bettina forgives you

Dear swimming,

you’ve been giving me a hard time these past few weeks. There was the news about swim caps designed for swimmers of colour’s hair being banned from the Olympics (the explanations were ridiculous). There was the woman who was attacked by a man in the pool for the audacity of being faster than him. And there was the former international competitive swimmer who still has to deal with men who can’t deal with her being faster.

An open air swimming pool glistening in the sunlight.

There was also the time I went to the pool to find three (!) less than mediocre male swimmers who were holding up all traffic in a highly populated pool because they thought they were entitled to being in the fast lane by virtue of being able to float (don’t get me wrong – it’s great that these guys are getting their movement in, but did they have to do it in the fast lane when they weren’t, I don’t know, fast?).

I mean, WTF? You, dear swimming, have been trying your hardest to ruin things. The racism and the sexism, it’s just not on. Get with the programme!

And yet, you somehow manage to redeem yourself every time I get in the water. You’re so meditative, splish splash, back and forth, breathe-two-three-breathe-two-three. You let my mind drift and get a fresh perspective on things. You’re exhausting in a good way. You make me feel free.

So these horrible things are not your fault, I suppose? They’re the fault of some people who are intent on ruining things for others, or who simply don’t care about the impact their behaviour has on their fellow humans. I forgive you, dear swimming, but I certainly will have a hard time forgiving those people.

With much love,
Bettina

gear · inclusiveness · normative bodies · swimming

All people vary in size? Really? Shocking!

No photo description available.
A photo of a women’s size guide on a wetsuit according to which XS is 5-5’2 and 95-110 lbs and XL is 5’9 + and over 155 lbs.

One of the things I love about our Facebook page is when people share things with us. Often it’s links for us to pass along on the page but sometimes it’s readers sharing their own experiences and observations. One reader, Sara Wabi Gould, was shopping for a wetsuit and was amused/horrified at this size chart and the accompanying text, “all people vary in size.”

She sent an image of the tag to us with the comment, “Wetsuit sizing strikes again. “Over 155”???”

According to this chart that variation tops out at 155 lbs. There’s also, according to this chart a strict correlation between weight and height.

Our bloggers had some reactions too:

Cate: “I remember reading once, in the 80s or 90s, some sort of “advice” in a women’s magazine that women who were 5.0 should weigh 100lbs, and for every inch after that you could add 5lbs. At the time, my not-quite-5.2 self weighed about 118lbs, the tiniest I’ve ever been — I think I was a size 4. I now weigh about 140 – 145 (haven’t weighed myself for a while) and I don’t THINK I’ve grown. I’m incredibly fit and strong and happy with my body. But I think I’ve carried that bullshit algorithm in the back of my mind for three and a half decades, with a flicker of shame every time I get on the scale that I am so much heavier than I “should” be. When I let it, that flicker of shame can outstrip the accomplishment of riding my bike 150 km in a day, running 8km comfortably on a hot day, deadlifting 200 lbs or being a super functional, fit, healthy 56 year old. These charts are dangerous bullshit.”

Tracy: “I feel oppressed by diet culture just looking at the chart and the way they assume height and weight correlate in just that way.”

Kim: “I’m 5’8 and just after I did the London to Paris challenge I was at my lightest at 155lb. This was me as endurance cyclist not lifting at the time. So does that mean I need to ride 450km in 24 hours and 14 minutes if I want to deserve a wetsuit? Bahahahaha!!!”

Sam: “Oh, FFS. I’m 5’7 and 155 lbs is a weight I haven’t seen on a scale since my early twenties. So I guess I’m an XL in a suit that’s too long for me. This brings me to one of my pet peeves about XL sizes. Sometimes they’re just a bit larger than L and other times they’re four times the size of L since they’re meant to fit everyone larger than that. It’s like the “one size fits everyone bigger than L.”

Diane: “By this sizing, my daughter (who is petite by almost any standard but very muscular) might need to get a medium as she is on the cusp for weight. What happens if you weigh 117 lb? Or 140? The answer if you weigh over 155 is generally that you learn to swim without a wetsuit. There are some slightly larger models out there, but most larger swimmers I have talked to simply gave up on trying to find one.”

You might want to also read Catherine’s post about choosing a wetsuit.

What would your reaction be to encountering this size tag on an item of clothes/sports gear while shopping?

cycling · fitness · habits · hiking · holiday fitness · swimming

Getting on board with the slowness plan

You would think that, now more vaccination is happening in the US and Canada, that we would all be waiting at the thresholds of our homes, raring to go, just waiting for Dr. Anthony Fauci’s starter pistol (which, in a way, has already gone off). Time to get out there, do the things, see the people, go to the places!

Track lanes, or the countdown if you prefer. Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash.
Track lanes 1–7, , or the countdown if you prefer. Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash.

I’ve gotten the message, and am venturing forth. I’ve driven through 9 states and back to see family and friends, had a bona fide dinner party, and eaten in a few restaurants inside, with no masks. I’ve been to the beach and the pool, the grocery store and parks. It’s so nice to see other people I know and don’t know, out enjoying everyday life. Yay! Whew. Thanks, science!

Probably not a scientists pouring COVID-vaccine into a flask. But the color is pretty. Photo by Louis Reed on Unsplash

But, life doesn’t feel back to normal. Not yet. Not even close. Just thinking about adding new things to my to-do list, filling my social calendar, resuming all the activities I used to do, makes me anxious and fearful. I’m not ready. Or at least not ready to do it all right away and fast, like the pandemic never happened. No sir.

But, but: life is returning, coming at us, speeding up, expanding to fill all available space and time. What are my options?

I can go slow.

What?

You know– slow.

Turns out I already have the start of a library of how-to-do-stuff-slowly books. Here are two of them.

I’m taking a memoir writing course online with an old friend and former colleague, Edi Giunta. One of the things she assigned for us is being part of a 100-word writing group. It works like this: people are assigned different days of the week. One starts, writing 100 words exactly. Then the next person writes exactly 100 words, taking inspiration from whatever strikes them in the previous writing piece. And so on.

I love this! It’s breaking down writing into sentences, words, punctuation. I admit I don’t write my pieces very slowly; but, given that it’s just 100 words, I feel like I have all the time in the world to complete it. What luxury– the feeling of rafts of time to do something, and then doing it within that time. WOW.

So I’ve been thinking: if slow writing feels this good, what else will be very satisfying doing slowly? Here’s one: swimming. After reading the Why We Swim book (which we reviewed extensively, you can start here if you want to take a look), I felt the urge to be in water, but not to swim fast or hard or long. I like just being in the water, moving around at my own paddly pace, stopping and treading water or floating to look around. There are slow swimming groups (here’s one on FB; I’m guessing Diane knows about them), but I am happy (for now) being a group of one or two or so.

There’s also slow hiking. Admittedly, I don’t have much choice on this one: I am a very slow hiker, no matter what my age, fitness level, geopolitical situation, etc. If and when it’s okay to hike slowly, I almost sort of like it a little bit. I mean, the outdoors, and woodsy hilly outdoors, are lovely. Being able to appreciate however much or little I want of it seems like an good approach for me. And yes, there is internet information on it, but I warn you: several pages I went to (like this one) featured a picture of a snail. Sigh… Still, it seems promising. And when I’ve done this with fully-on-board-with-the-plan friends, it’s been marvelous.

And then there’s slow cycling. That one’s hard, because I remember being not-as-slow and am not as satisfied with slow-as-I-am-now. But maybe this is the most important one. Why? Because 1) I love cycling; 2) I’ve missed cycling; and 3) I simply am a slow cyclist. At least right now. Given the choice between slow cycling and no cycling, I pick slow cycling.

My sister and I have done a bunch of slow cycling on beach bikes. It’s so much fun. She likes riding around beach neighborhoods, looking at the houses, and wondering aloud how much they cost. I like riding with her. This situation suits us both. In lieu of my sister (who lives, alas, far away from me), I’ll have to slow-cycle on my own or with friends who I’m comfortable slow-cycling with.

Dear readers, what do you like to do slowly? Anything? Have you considered taking up an activity or returning to it, but in the slow lane? I’d love to hear about it.

Book Club · fitness · swimming

FIFI Book Club: Why We Swim, by Bonnie Tsui. This week: Flow

Hi readers– we’ve been reading a new book for this installment of the FIFI book club. It’s called Why We Swim, by Bonnie Tsui. We’ve been reading and commenting on the various sections of the book over the past several Fridays. Today we wind up with the last section of the book in our final group post.

Five weeks ago, we introduced ourselves in terms of our past, present and aspirational relationships with moving around in water.

Four weeks ago, we reported on the section of the book titled Survival.

Three weeks ago, the topic shifted to Well-Being.

Two weeks ago, we talked about the section on Community.

Last week, we turned to Competition.

And now here we are, at the last section: Flow.

First up, Kim:

As we finish reflecting on Tsui’s book, I’ve been watching the city staffers tasked with sprucing up my local outdoor swimming pool. Just 250 metres from my house, it’s a gem: it’s the “beach” for all the older folks on fixed incomes who live in the supported housing building over the road, play-pad central for neighbourhood kids of all stripes, and the place I long to be every single time I pass it on a dog walk when the warm months are here and the sun is glinting off the mirror-glazed blue surface. Oh how I cannot wait the 11 days until it’s open!

“Flow” refers to being so in the zone you are In-The-Moment 2.0 – a state I’ve never experienced. I think of it like deep meditation, like the perfect Savasana, a state of intense being that borders on the dissolution of self with task, with state of play. Maybe I’m overthinking what flow feels like, but I know I’ve never experienced what Tsui talks about here – and yet, at the same time, there is no place in the world that makes me feel more fully alive than the swimming pool. And I’m not even talking about swimming; I’m most alive at the end of a swim, with the endorphins surging, when I float, weightless, bobbing and stretching and revelling in the touch of my skin to the water, and, in outdoor pools, in the unobstructed view of the wide open sky.

I confess Flow was not my favourite section of Tsui’s book, and I’m not really referencing its details here because, to be totally honest, I finished reading it a week ago and (unlike every other section) almost none of it has stuck in my memory. What will stay with me from Why We Swim, though, are individual stories: the human seal; Kim the unbreakable (who returns in Flow, FYI, and that is a wonderful bit of the section); the samurais. Like others I wanted more sometimes – more critical engagement with the racism embedded in swim access; a perhaps more potent ending – but there is no question that Tsui helped me connect with my deep love of the water, and to think about it in ways that I hadn’t been prompted to do before. I’m grateful to have read this book and excited to pass it on to others!

Next up is Bettina:

Like Kim, I finished reading this section a while ago. And also like Kim, I don’t think I’ve ever really been “in the flow” except maybe when writing, but swimming would still be the closest I have come. When I’m in the pool, the outside world does sort of retreat into the background as I focus on my strokes and breath.

Likewise, I don’t think I’ve ever been “in the zone”, where physical performance is absolutely optimal. But again, I’ve never felt as physically amazing and strong as I have during some swimming sessions.

What I think I have experienced is “blue mind”, “a ‘soft fascination’ to let our focused attention rest and the default-mode network to kick in”. As I think I’ve previously mentioned, I’ve definitely had some of my best ideas and found solutions for some vexing problems in the pool.

“Flow” is home to the sentences that most struck a chord with me in the entire book: “Submersion creates internal quiet, too. […] We enter the meditative state induced by counting laps and observe the subtle play of light as the sun moves across the lanes. We slip from thought to thought, and then there’s a momentary nothingness.” I have definitely felt that. And “Even in grief […] I have marked time by water. […] I will say that swimming, in all of its permutations – in a pool, in a lake, paddling a surfboard out to sea – has always helped me come out on the other side of a difficult time.

“Despite all these truths, overall “Why We Swim” fell just a little bit flat for me. I can’t put my finger on why. I have to say that I felt the same with other “swimming” books before, such as “Turning”, by Jessica J. Lee. I think in my case it might be a problem of expecting too much? I get so excited about books about swimming that they have a high (impossible?) standard to live up to. Even so, I enjoyed “Why We Swim” and would recommend it to other water enthusiasts.

Next up is Diane:

There were bits and pieces about this section I really liked, but overall I found it disjointed. I did like the bit about Lake George and the Tsui’s extended family there (it’s a place I only heard about this year. It is a famous open water swim spot, apparently, and will be doing its annual race as a virtual event – I won’t join officially, but I will track my distance for the race period). However, the poetry and problem-solving sections didn’t resonate at all. I am usually too busy working on my strokes or enjoying the sensations of being in the water to have big ideas or solve problems. Non-fiction of this type is not my preferred reading, but several swimmy friends liked it. Overall, I’m not sorry I read it, but it isn’t something I will read again.

Here’s Sam:

My own experiences are pretty far from Tsui’s when it comes to ‘flow.’ I don’t think I’ve ever been a flow state while actively swimming. It’s not that I am worried about drowning. I can swim some pretty long distances stopping to float for a bit when I get tired but if I am swimming I have to coordinate my breathing and that gets in the way of anything like ‘flow.’ I’ve always wanted that from swimming but it’s eluded me even when I’m swimming regularly. That said, I do have a happy relaxed feeling in the water but it’s not flow and I associate it with floating, not swimming.

Like everyone else I loved Tsui’s story of swimming across Lake George. It reminded me of my own lake swimming as a child. In a book that flitted about themes quite a bit I liked coming home to Tsui’s own swimming story.

And last up is me, Catherine:

I agree with the other reviewers that the last section didn’t quite live up to our expectations. However, writing about the experience of flow is like trying to describe something ineffable. What this section did for me is encourage me to go seek out my own ineffable water experiences. I’m a competent swimmer and I love the water. I’ve never competed, other than two triathlons that felt like swimming in a giant washing machine. I don’t think there’s any flow to be had there– more like agitate and then spin…

I do, however, profoundly relate to the idea that being immersed in water can create shifts in our perception of time. For me, it’s shifts in all spatial things. My body feels freer, less gravity-bound. My shape feels sleek, even hydrodynamic. I’m a seal, flipping around, diving under, flapping in greeting at my friends, floating on my back, comfortably held.

One of my favorite spots is the middle of Walden Pond. Whenever I go, I swim out to the center and hang out, floating on my back, looking at the blue or gray sky and the formations of clouds. Walden is a very popular spot in the summer, but the water muffles the voices. Everything and everyone recedes. This isn’t the flow you experience through movement (I have felt that on the bike many times), but it is a sort of blue-mind sort experience.

I highly recommend this book for anyone who loves water, or even wants to know more about loving water.

Let us know if you’re reading the book, or read it already. We’d love to hear from you.