It's 5:45 in the morning and I'm waiting for swim friends to join me in the pouring rain and dark. It's Tuesday of the 4th week of my first level 2 field work rotation as an occupational therapy student in Salem Oregon. I've made swimming here my morning ritual for the last month and missing a swim always makes my day at the hospital a little off. I checked my messages at 5:51 no one is coming.
I guess at this point I spend more time swimming alone in conditions I wouldn't recommend other people swim alone in. It's not that I think I'm a better or safer swimmer than others, it's that my soul feels claustrophobic the rest of the day when I don't get my gills wet in the morning. I'm away from my tribe and rather than feeling lonely on my swims it feels right. Like the solitude of swimming even in a group of people is something that's hard to explain. You're never truly with anyone else in the water. It's just a parallel activity that people enjoy simultaneously.
Our community has had several water-related emergencies this summer and swimming alone may seem like a slap in the face to people intimately affected by these situations. If I had other options maybe I wouldn't, but I can't say for sure. I think at some point every long distance swimmer has to train alone in conditions that are less than ideal. This feels like a metaphor for life, sometimes things just are not great but the only way to get through them is on our own.
It's 6:21 and I'm still sitting in my car at Turner Lake wearing my cap and goggles wrapped in my dry robe staring at the water. I feel like after writing this I need to get in, if for no other reason and to show myself that I can.
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