Swimming in water that is not contained in a box with clear, chlorine water, and straight, black, organized lines has never been very appealing to me. However, our trip to Lake Hartwell and my trip to Smith Lake this past weekend have changed that. I began swimming competitively when I was 5 or 6 and spent most of my time in the water either training for swim meets or competing in them. Yes, I swam for fun in pools during the summer but my parents and I never went to lakes or rivers. Every summer we did always go on vacation to the beach and I would boogie board, but that still isn’t’ quite swimming in the actual ocean. Therefore, I have had quite the fear of any kind of water other than pool water for as long as I can remember.
When we read Leanne Shapton’s “St. Barts” and “Jaws” I knew every feeling she described. From imagining different monsters and cities below the water to thinking about the “sheer drop” of the continental shelf, I know that I have felt every one of those feelings. It’s not that I’m scared of drowning, I know that I can swim and that I’m a very good swimmer. I think it has more to do with the unknown and have the clarity of the swimming pool removed. I was nervous the entire ride to Lake Hartwell but everyone else seemed to be excited. I kept thinking about what could possibly be in the lake (thanks to Sean’s descriptions of all the creatures he’s seen on River Monsters) and why we couldn’t just get in the pool. Even though I was nervous I was very excited for it and I think the excitement took over once I finally jumped in with Eva’s help.
Our swim at Lake Hartwell prepared me well for my weekend at Smith Lake. Once again, I was nervous but because of Lake Hartwell I felt a little better. I still couldn’t help myself from thinking about what was in the water. I can’t decide if I would have rather just floated on the water without putting my face in with my goggles on. It’s a really creepy feeling putting your face into a liquid that you can’t see through at all. The water was a little more blue and green than the water at Lake Hartwell but that didn’t stop my imagination run wild. Before I jumped in from the boat I was told that the lake was made by flooding a town and then damming it up-so pretty much I was swimming over top and entire town. Which is freaking creepy.
After getting used to being in the lake I started off on my swim, first slow and then a faster, and then back to slow for my cool down. I don’t really know how far I swam, but it felt awesome. Even though sometimes I would get caught up in my thoughts and let my imagination take off, there was a feeling of peace that came over me from not having to count how many laps I had done or not having to stare at a black line for an hour and a half. For me, swimming fast and slow didn’t really affect how the swim went. I think I naturally go at a faster pace, but then I can’t go as far. I enjoyed doing both and getting to experience swimming in water that wasn’t pool water for a second time in just a few days. I feel much more confident about swimming in open water and after this course I would love to do an open water swim.
Growing up I enjoyed swimming and just assumed it was because I got to socialize with my friends at practice and as meets, but now I have found my love for swimming again, thanks to this May X course. I feel like I really do understand why we swim-because it’s a whole new world in the water. It’s something different from every day life and there’s really no form of exercise quite like it. It’s great for your body, not painful on your joints, and it can give you a peace of mind that I’ve never experience with running or tennis or dancing. You can focus on yourself and how your body and mind feels the entire time and still not feel completely exhausted afterwards. Swimming is truly a sport people of all ages can do-it doesn’t discriminate.