Searching for the Seal (Day 150)

It’s my 150th swim! I wanted to do a long swim to commemorate the milestone and Colleen has been saying for a while that we should go find the seal sculpture over at Cesar Chavez Park. The lifesize sculpture of a harbor seal is the creation of local artist and swimmer Conny Bleul-Gohlke (you can read about her and her art here). According to Colleen, she’d first put the sculpture at the Albany Bulb, but it was vandalized there and so she tucked it into the rocks at the shoreline of Cesar Chavez Park. 

We’ve been talking about going to find it for a couple of weeks now but hadn’t yet been up for that long of a swim (we expected it to be two miles, though according to Colleen’s calculations it was 1.5. Mine suggested it was closer to two, but my fancy Garmin swim watch never seems to get an accurate reading). Today was the day. 

Sheila returned from a couple of weeks in New York last night and gamely jumped right into the long swim this morning. It was a perfect day for it—the water was calm and smooth, a mirror of light slowly undulating with the easy currents. The sun shone against a bright blue sky. 

We swam across in about forty minutes, with several stops for pictures and pelican-viewing. The birds were out in force this morning. At one point I stopped to admire the diving antics of several of them swirling around Sheila and noticed that the pelicans weren’t the only thing to see: A seal was just beside her, staring curiously. It was the most calm I ever felt in proximity to a seal, so I guess I’m gaining courage.

As I swam on, I thought to myself, well at least I’ve seen one seal today. Because though we were swimming toward Cesar Chavez Park, we weren’t exactly sure where this seal sculpture was and, the longer I swam, the more I realized that I wasn’t going to have the stamina to swim too far along the shoreline looking for it. Luckily, I didn’t have to. Soon after the live seal sighting, Colleen had reached the shore and let out a cheer: She’d swum right to the sculpture!

It seemed kind of magical; as if the ceramic seal were sending out a beacon and Colleen simply followed the signal. We got out of the water for a little while when we got there, Sheila and I taking off our toe-pinching flippers for a few minutes and relaxing in the sun on the slippery rocks.

Then we swam back. It was a gorgeous adventure. 1.5 miles for my 150th swim! Will have to find a two-mile adventure for my two hundredth.

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