Monday, July 25, 2011


I love swimming.

When I was little, the story goes, my mother was trying to get my brother in his floaty, and I disappeared. They found me (quickly, it seems) sitting on the bottom of the pool, grinning. When I was even smaller, I marched into a duck pond with my expensive Easter shoes on. I was swimming proficiently before I can remember; I really only remember the blue silence of swimming under water.

In Austin, I discovered swimming heaven at Barton Springs. The water was cold, there was no chlorine, it was vast, so you didn't have to compete for space, and it was deep enough to swim way down into the silence. I didn't actually learn to dive until I was swimming there- anything to get into the water faster.

Now I live in the land of pretty much no swimming pools, no chlorine. There are lakes and ponds and rivers seemingly everywhere. All three children are strong swimmers and never balk at cold water. Becoming a mother apparently meant I never have to swim alone, and boy, do we swim. The only trying part has been that lakes and rivers and most ponds do not offer a good place to jump in. Even that we've overcome. There's a beautiful swimming hole with a huge rock; it's a long-ish drive, but worth it to jump in. And, we found a place just a few minutes from us that has a dam that's safe to dive off.

There is another place that has a sand beach, and if you want to see people you know, that's the place to go. I heard someone joke that it's the only time they get to visit with their neighbors, because this is the place for resting in the sun while the children frolic. It's the place to launch yourself into the water as soon as you have waded in far enough. You might take a jacket except on the warmest days, because betweeen the cold water and the ever-present wind, it can get nippy if you're wet.

And that's the place where Ladies of the Lake came into being.

Last year, four Ladies of the Lake swam all the way across this small lake. We were in the water just over an hour. It was cold, it was invigorating; we decided to do it again.

Today, two Ladies of the Lake swam across and along Lake Eligo. It's a narrow, long lake, with two public spots. We swam from one beach down the lake to the boat dock and then back again. It took maybe 1.5 hours of steady, slow breast stroke. The breast stroke is important, because that way you can chat and swim. Also, if you're doing the breast stroke, you suck in less water when you scream your head off because a water plant attacked you. If you're the person laughing, I recommend a nice back float.

Who knows where we'll swim next year, but it will be fun picking a place. I think I'm going to suggest a couple of preparatory swims; it will build our confidence and help us try out a few area lakes.

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