Why do we swim?

As I did my last swim of the semester in Pinnacle Lake late Saturday afternoon, I had a lot of thoughts going through my head. I swam slowly enjoying the brisk mountain water gliding along my body much smoother than the warm chlorinated pool water at Furman. It reminded me of the weekend before when I was swimming in Lake Toxaway, and of earlier that week when we had swam in Lake Hartwell. I realized how much I love swimming in open water, and how much I actually despise swimming back and forth in between lane lines. Outside, in the completely open, boundless mass of water I feel free. There’s no distance I have to go, no wall I have to reach. There’s so much more to enjoy when you’re not having to focus on the cross on the wall or the flags above you or turning at just the right moment. Even when I started to swim fast I found myself still enjoying it and not getting tired at all, where as if I had been swimming sets of 50’s in the pool I would have been completely wiped out and exhausted. I started to really get a sense of why people love open water swimming so much.

So… why do we swim? My answer: there is no right answer. Everybody swims for a different reason. For me I swim for fun. No real purpose, no objective, no set goal. For others, like Diana Nyad, it’s an obsession. The factor that rules their life so much they literally couldn’t live without it and don’t really take their life into consideration because of it. Or like Lynn Cox, and many many others who do it for a cause. Whether to strengthen relations between two countries, or raise awareness for cancer, they are swimming because they believe it’s going to do good in the world.

Some people swim to stay healthy, some for recreation, and some for competition. So for fitness swimmers, they have realized it’s the best way they can stay in shape and feel good and improve their own personal well-being. They go into water because of how it makes them feel and the benefits they reap from it.

just keep swimming

Others, like myself, swim purely as a recreational activity. Whether for relaxation or fun, it is the feeling of being completely weightless and truly alone that lures them in. Swimming is a very social sport, not just a competitive sport. It’s separated from other sports in that people do it for so many different reasons. Swimming could mean competing in the Olympics, or it could mean bring a towel and a cooler to the beach and splashing in the waves. It could be mean waking up at 5am for morning workouts or celebrating a friends birthday in the backyard. There are so many things that swimming could be and so many reasons WHY people swim. This class has focused on so many interesting aspects of why people swim, and I’ve really enjoyed learning so many new things about it.

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