365 Days of Swimming

Bleary-eyed with jet lag and the particular bodily displacement that comes from traveling such a long distance in such a short time, I arrived back in the stormy Bay Area ready to take my last plunge of my year of swimming in my favorite place: the Albany Bulb. 

It was pouring with rain as our plane landed; we had to circle for a half hour before being cleared to land and our taxi ride home felt death-defying with all the traffic and flooding. Luckily, Kira and Colleen were game to meet me in these terrible conditions for a last wild swim of the year. 

The Albany Bulb was so flooded I couldn’t even park my car at the usual spot but had to park further up the hill and walk down. Rain was slapping and the wind was blowing and I was so darn happy to see the beautiful San Francisco Bay again. 

At 53 degrees, getting in felt comparably easy (it was 41 at the Ladies’ Pond yesterday) and I relished the extra buoyancy of the briny bay. Kira and Colleen are usually heads-down swim-a-mile gals, but today was just a bonus celebratory swim and so they were happy to chat and float, paddle, and pose for selfies.

We all appreciated the gorgeous rain.

I’m going to do a separate post that recaps my year; for today I just have one main reflection: Gratitude. 

It hasn’t been the best year of my life nor the lives of many people closest to me. The disappointments that instigated my year of swimming, continued to disappoint; I’ve racked up a couple of dozen more rejections. Parenting was as intense as ever; though things are on an upswing, health and happiness were more elusive for my girls than seemed fair. My own health was garbage. The number of times I was sick with nasty viruses that laid me low for weeks on end made me question whether wild swimming might actually be battering my immune system (I prefer to think that without the swimming, it all would have been worse). This year there was too much death in my community and in my family. The world continued to hurtle in alarming directions socially, environmentally, politically. 

And yet. 

Every day I had at least one moment of pure joy, surrounded by nature (minus those 15 days of swimming in pools), in wonderful company, or in reflective solitude. I communed with pelicans, sanderlings, swans, and loons; one memorable shark, and lots of seals. I met the best people. The challenges of 2022 would have existed regardless, but by swimming every day I gave myself a mental health boost that helped me cope with all of it. Swimming brought joy and relief every single day. And, by writing about it here, it was like I experienced it twice; once in the doing and once in the reflecting and finding words to communicate the experience.

So, the number one thing I have to say about my year of swimming on this last day is that I am so grateful for it. Swimming every day in 2022 was a fantastic idea and I’m proud to have done it, but mostly, I’m thankful for all the many gifts it brought me. More on that soon. Happy New Year!

6 thoughts on “365 Days of Swimming

  1. What a wonderful closing reflection… the honesty, the vulnerability, and the gratitude for the humanness of it all. Thank you for sharing your year of swimming with all of us! In talking about your own experiences, I felt you articulated mine and so many other’s. Congratulations on 365 days of wet, wonderful, wild swimming!

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