New Friends (Day 119)

One thing I’ve discovered since becoming a regular open water swimmer is that it’s an excellent forger of friendships. As I’ve said here before, swimming together has deepened my connections with people I already love and has created many, lovely new ones.

Today I swam with Gabe, with whom I’ve been crossing paths for nearly two decades but with whom I’ve never had a fully-fledged conversation. It’s one of those situations where you’re both great friends with other friends and smile fondly at one another at events but never fall into conversation. But the last time we saw each other we discovered our mutual love of open water swimming and so this morning we went.

Conversations while swimming are similar to the kinds of conversations I have on hikes: When you’re surrounded by nature, focused on a sort-of goal, words just seem to just flow effortlessly. But swimming is unique in that you are more likely to do it with a virtual stranger. Because swimming with someone is safer and more comfortable than swimming alone and because open water swimming is a less common pastime (compared to hiking), you are more apt to say to someone you’ve just met (or have met repeatedly, but never talked to): let’s go swimming together! For all of these reasons, I have had many joyful swims making new friends in these one hundred and nineteen days of swimming. And so it was this morning with Gabe; sharing stories and discovering commonalities under gloriously sunny skies. The water rippled with mellow energy and reflected the blues and greens of the late spring morning. The clouds were a wispy marvel.

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