Swimming. Oh How I Love Thee.

Walking the beach in the glorious winter sunshine is a beautiful thing, as I was reminded yesterday. With nights more than chilly enough for the fire, the days are absolutely beautiful at the moment.

Wandering the paddocks the other day collecting firewood, I was thinking that these winter days are warmer than many summer days I spent while living in the Northern Hemisphere many years ago. They are just perfect.

Anyway, this isn’t a weather report as much as reminiscing thoughts about swimming, despite my love of these winter days and nights. I watched a horse swimming in a dam a few days ago and started longing for that submersion in water myself. I love the feeling of gliding through water, swimming under the surface and feeling it on all sides of me.

As a child, my love of water was obvious. Thankfully we had a pool when I was a toddler so I learned to swim at a very young age. As a three year old, at a brief moment when my mother wasn’t watching me at the public pool, I climbed to the top of a three metre diving board and jumped in the deep end, dog paddling back to the side of the pool with a huge smile on my face. Poor Mum, she had only discovered me missing when someone commented on the little girl at the edge of the high board.

Swimming training was a highly enjoyable part of my childhood until Mum couldn’t extend her time between my siblings’ interests in horses and mine in swimming and any other sport I could experience. So eventually I was taken out of the pool and put on the back of a horse too.

We had moved to a farm further out anyway, so it would have been too hard for regular swimming training in town. We occasionally swam in a huge open topped water tank, complete with frogs. Sometimes we swam in one of the dams, but yabbies bit our toes. Thankfully before too long, we had a pool put in and my lap swimming could continue. Swimming under a blanket of stars on summer nights is still one of my favourite memories, my dog always at the side of the pool waiting for me.

So even though I love the beach and the power of the ocean, I love doing laps more than catching waves. It was wonderful to discover that not only is the nearest beach to the farm a piece of heaven in itself, but that it has a lap pool. So I get to benefit from the ocean’s energy, while still enjoying the rhythm of lap swimming. This beach and pool are a huge drawcard for my love of the area.

Yesterday while there the water was incredibly calm, the pool looking like glass. It was magical. I wished, as I have often done over the years, that I could be one of those brave souls who swim in the ocean all year around. I toyed with the idea regularly this year while enjoying my summer swims. But I didn’t even last through autumn, let alone winter, once the water had cooled off.

My favourite swimming of all though is in clean, clear fresh water rivers or lakes. Maybe it is growing up as an inland girl. My most favourite, favourite place to swim is in a river about twenty minutes from where my parents live. (The photo above is of this place). This river has literally saved my life during a particularly hard chapter. It was only being able to go out there and have the place to myself day after day that carried me through, as I swam and healed. The first time I went there, the banks were covered with litter. I went back a few days later and collected more than forty shopping bags of litter. It is interesting how like attracts like. Once litter was there, more litter was added. Once the litter was removed, no more litter was dumped there, much to my delight over the years since.

Another place I have absolutely loved swimming is Thirlmere Lakes on the NSW Southern Highlands. I lived down near there for a while and hung out at the lakes a lot. It is these lakes that I sing about in my song A Dark Day, from my album Sun Showers. Very sadly, the lakes are now drying up, due to the mining happening underneath. I was there only a month or so ago and it was absolutely heartbreaking, leaving me a little lost for words and still affected. So I count my blessings for the many special times I have experienced at the lakes previously, so many summer days cooling off in lakes of crystal clear, clean, refreshing, beautiful water. And many winter days, sitting by a lake’s edge soaking up the peace of the place.

Winter is a time that I adore walking, eating soup by a warm fire and snuggling (though snuggling works for me in any season). And I love winter, even more than summer. But it is also a time I forego my love of river and beach swimming because, as mentioned, I am not one of those brave souls who manages to enjoy swimming in freezing water. Oh how I wish I were! Instead I shall enjoy winter soaks in the bathtub instead and be very grateful that I live such a life where I have choices come summer time again.

So many don’t have such freedom. Many people don’t even have clean water to drink, let alone to swim in. And many others never learn to swim or enjoy that feeling of being completely submerged in healthy, clean water. Some people live in cultures where swimming freely without hassle is not possible, especially for women. I remember swimming in the Red Sea once, in a full-length wetsuit, and being surrounded by local men, feeling more entrapped than if I was being circled by sharks. Later I saw a local woman swimming with her family, in her full-length chador. Can you imagine the weight of that?

Anyway, enough talk about swimming on this glorious winter’s day. The late afternoon sun is throwing beautiful light across the paddocks and I am heading out to collect some wood for the fire. I shall long for swimming no more today. These memories shared have brought enough joy.

I shall return to the beauty of this present moment and enjoy the season that is currently upon us. The creek flows by the house on its merry way to the ocean. I send my love on it and will find myself immersed again come summer.

In the meantime, it is time to satisfy my love of walking, walking, walking. But that, my friends, is another story in itself. Thanks for dropping by. Wishing happy days to you.