Today I swam with Marcia, Wendy, and Tonya down at the Albany Bulb. They are all faster than me and, while I can just manage to keep up in warmer months, I didn’t even try today. At 50 degrees, I prefer to take my time. It’s still nice to be out together and to begin and end at the circle, chatting about our swims.
I spent most of my swim on my back. Back crawl is the perfect cold, open-water swim stroke. When it’s cold, putting my face in the water is initially a shock of painful ice knives stabbing into my forehead, like eating a giant bite of ice cream. It’s a short-lived pain, but working up the nerve to experience it takes me a looong time, which means getting into a front crawl groove takes a long time.
Enter the backstroke. Nearly as efficient and no face freeze required. Plus, I get to watch the gorgeous clouds float by and enjoy the glinting synchronicity of light on the wings of the sanderlings as they swoop and dip; the graceful dives of the pelicans.
In a pool, I avoid the backstroke because I struggle to maintain a straight line and wind up crashing into the lane line or forgetting to count my strokes after the flag and bonking my head on the wall. But in the open water, I can zig-zag and meander, back crawl any which way and there’s not a single obstacle in my path.