Sickness and Health (Week 4 in Swimming)

Sunday was another lovely sunny day with a big crowd at the Bulb, which still felt like a welcome sight after all of the rain. Brown, murky water greeted us again, but I tried to pretend not to notice. The temperature was 51, the air slightly warmer than it had been the day before, but still brisk. Sheila, Arwen, and I had a relaxed, chatty swim. We didn’t stay in too long as Sheila was getting cold and Arwen hadn’t been in for over a week so staying in more than twenty minutes didn’t seem wise. 

I missed Monday and Tuesday. During my year of swimming, Monday was always my hardest day to get a swim in because it’s my busiest day. So I was happy not to have that pressure on Monday. Tuesday, on the other hand, my skin crawled with wanting to swim. I didn’t go in the morning and spent the whole day wishing I had. Spent the whole day wishing I still had the discipline of my year of swimming to get me to go out. Both days I dipped in the cold plunge.

On Wednesday I got back in. I went out for a completely gorgeous afternoon swim with Marcia, Colleen, and Colleen’s dog, Ollie. Ollie swam all the way to the little tree and back! The sun was sparkling brightly in the sky and the water felt warm at 55 degrees. Colleen, who was going for her second swim of the day, reported that it had been 51 in the morning. What a beautiful difference an afternoon swim can be. I luxuriated in the temperature. I think 55 is pretty perfect: cold enough to get all of the invigorating goodness of cold water, but warm enough that it doesn’t hurt. 

My beautiful swim was pretty much my last moment of feeling human for a couple of days. By Wednesday night I’d caught the stomach bug Hazel came down with on Monday. It was the worst. Thursday was spent curled up in bed or next to the toilet. By Friday, I was slightly better but in no condition to swim. People ask me how I swam through Covid and my various colds and flus of last year and I always say my swims were the best parts of those achy days, soothing and healing when I was in an otherwise bad state. But, had I caught the stomach flu last year? I definitely would have missed some swims. There was no way I could have picked myself up off the bathroom floor on Thursday and made my way to the Albany Bulb. 

By the weekend I was healed and had two lovely swims. On Saturday, Arwen and I had a magical, foggy swim (temperature 51) followed by a beautiful walk. I love the fog; the way it muffles and softens the world; the way it feels like anything might be just out of sight, beyond the misty gray veil. We swam along the neck of the bulb so that we could keep land in our sights and it was a good thing because it didn’t take long for the shore to disappear entirely. 

Sunday was clear and brisk. The clouds and light were stunning. None of my chatty friends were swimming and, while I missed them, it meant I had a steady, strong swim all the way to the Big Tree, which I haven’t swum to since the warmer water days (which, at 51 degrees, today’s water was not). It felt good to swim hard and afterward, I had another lovely walk, this time with Kaushik and Colleen.

Warming up with a walk, we realized we were in matching coats so we got someone to take a picture (that is not our dog).

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