I used to be passionate about gardening. Every winter, I’d surround my armchair with seed catalogues and sketches of my yard and plot out the next season. A few years ago, while my late 40s, I changed. I discovered open water swimming; the freedom from lane lines and flip turns, the wonderful community of wild swimmers, the pure joy of hopping in and leaving land behind.
I started out swimming in an awesome series of open water swims that Oregon Masters swimmers put on throughout the summer. In mountain and coastal lakes and through recovered urban rivers, Oregon hosts some really fun events in spectacular settings. It didn’t take long before the garden turned into a serious patch of weeds, I was spending my weekends swimming and come winter, the weed patch had lost my interest. Instead of seed catalogues, I found online calendars of open water swims. Websites like Ray’s Notebook, OpenWaterCalendar and others showed me an amazing breadth of events around the country, some of which caught my imagination in a way no heirloom tomato ever did.
I decided to plan a 50th birthday present to myself – Waikiki Roughwater swim and a family vacation to Hawaii. That turned out so well that I decided that every year I would give myself one excursion to an open water swim somewhere away from the home water. I wound up at Chicago Big Shoulders the next year, then Chesapeake Bridge Swim, followed by Swim Around Lido Key. I still swim the Oregon swims each summer as they’re are too wonderful to miss, but now I take the time for those new and different waters each year.
I’ve already started imagining next year although I haven’t made any decisions yet. I’ll save that for midwinter in the arm chair. The next few years will be to swims in the US and there are so many that capture my imagination; swims through New York City, the wine country of California, the deserts of Arizona… After a few more of these my teenage daughter will leave the nest and I can really light out for something big. For this I’ve got SwimTrek in my sights. So many swims are calling for me ; Croatia, Haiti, Vietnam, Mexico…
I can’t wait for that winter browsing session when I’ll choose from the beautiful selection of grand destinations a whole week of exotic swims in lovely, new waters. Weeds be damned.