When my ribs healed up, I jumped right back into full-blown summer swim mode!
I realized my mental health was slipping, but I hadn't realized the extent until I got my gills wet. Clouds parted, mer-angels sang, and vitality flooded my soul, hydrating the husk of a human I had become. Getting back in the water, I found myself returning to where open water swimming started for me four years ago: River Huggers. Seeing old friends reminded me of why I started swimming outside in the first place, its fun! The last two summers I had gotten wrapped up in swimming longer and longer distances, and my ambitions of ultra-marathon swimming overshadowed why I loved open water. I find myself swimming slower and shorter, pausing to dolphin dive, baby ottering my buoy to look at the sky, and swimming backstroke to bask in the sunlight.
Rather quickly, my need for distance crept back into my heart, but for a wholly different reason than before. I want to spend as much time in the water as possible, drinking in the precious thick nectar of satisfaction that is swimming for hours on end. I feel like a dragon, hoarding my hours in the water and saving them up for dark days ahead.
Returning to River Huggers also introduced me to a new swim friend from San Francisco, sheltering in place with family for the time being. One of my favorite things to do with out of town swimmers is to go night swimming in the Willamette, so I organized one! It ended up being more of a sunset swim but was still magical. We swam from the swim dock to Tilikum and back and sat (social distancing, of course!) in the parking lot under the overpass eating cup-o-ramen afterward. I've done several night swims over the years through downtown, but this is by far the most memorable. Something about coming together in the ritual of a summer night swim time of COVID just made all the difference.
My new swim friend from San Francisco is a long-distance addict too, and we have done some longer swims together in recent weeks, a 5k a week ago, a 7k Saturday, and we're planning on a Ross Island 10k this Saturday. Somehow, last week I managed to swim 20k total. Jeeze.
I've only been back in the water since July 3rd. Maybe a bit much??
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