8 O’Clock Swimmers (Day 84)

Each day at eight you can count on a group of swimmers—Marcia always and whichever gang of regular joins her that day—clamoring into the water at the Albany Bulb and going for a solid 30-50 minute swim. We are often getting in before or after them and always look on with awe as they swim much harder and, therefore, further than we ever do. 

I missed my Lift and Sprint class this morning, so I decided to swim with the 8 o’clock swimmers in order to make up for the exercise I missed out on by missing my class. It was a gray, windy, wavy day, which made plunging in easy. Harder was getting right into swimming. Usually, I’m head-up for a long time; chatting, looking around, acclimating to the whole experience of being in the water, absorbing my surroundings, before eventually putting my head down and front crawling. Even then, I do a couple of dozen strokes and then lift my head, look around again, maybe snap some pictures. Today, I launched right in and stayed, head down, front crawling for ten minutes. Only then did I pop up and get my bearings. I was surprised to see I was keeping up with the 8 o’clock swimmers just fine. It’s remarkable what I’m capable of when I stick to it. I put my head back down for another ten minutes. 

As I swam along I was struck by what a different experience it is just to swim. Twenty minutes in and I barely knew what the sky looked like. Were the birds flying above me? I contemplated the fact the seal could be swimming alongside me and I wouldn’t know. Instead, I was tuned in to other sensations; the cool water tingling on my skin as my muscles warmed from working hard; the sting of my eyes (I really need to wear goggles if I’m going to keep my head down the whole time); the swoosh of the water as my arms moved through it, the splashing slap of my kick, my sharp intake of air, mingling with the sound of the wind when I lifted my head to breathe. 

At twenty minutes I stopped to take a few photos and video, chatted with Marcia and Kira, and gazed at the wild day around us. With the city obscured by clouds and fog, it felt like we were out in the middle of the sea. After a bit, I put my head back down and swam back to shore without stopping. The waves were at just the wrong angle so that every time I turned my head to the left to take a breath, I was blasted by water and spluttered out mouthfuls of the bay.

It was a lovely swim and a good reminder that, though I love a leisurely swim, my head up to soak in the beauty of the bay, ears perked to the birds and the laughter and conversation of my friends; it’s also good to put my head down and work hard.  

One thought on “8 O’Clock Swimmers (Day 84)

  1. I usually have an extra pair of goggles with me if you’re in need. I had a windy but sunny swim at the Bulb this afternoon. I can’t believe how warm the water was!!!! I really didn’t need to fret about transitioning from the warm water. I swam along the edge to steer clear of the kite boarders, though most of them headed straight outside so I didn’t have to fret too much. (Arwen had to cancel, she was traffic bound in the City).


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