We are all feeling lonelier lately. The Dolphin Club and its neighbor, the South End Rowing Club, closed early within the pandemic, as did most swimming pools, although phased plans have allowed for restricted reopening. But the open water stays open to us.
On the east facet of the Bay, I’ve stored up with my swims at Keller Cove in Richmond. As I stroll down the trail to the seaside, I glimpse an abbreviated span of the Golden Gate Bridge and the spires of Sutro Tower atop Twin Peaks, poking up just like the tops of ship masts. I gauge the temper of the water, the climate: steely and grey at some point, bluebird sky the subsequent. I like the various vary of seaside denizens — walkers, waders, swimmers — and I’m going to take my place amongst them.
Among the swimmers are my pal Heather, 46, and her 71-year-old uncle Jim, a lifelong open-water aficionado who grew up swimming in Maine. As spring turns to summer time, I’ve watched pool swimmers I do know adapt themselves to the open water, donning moist fits, neoprene caps and inflatable buoys.
Heather’s spouse, Krystel, is the de facto mayor of my pool — she is aware of everybody by identify, in addition to their swimming habits — however Krystel is the final individual I’d count on to see out on this wild expanse, uncovered to currents and marine mammals and seaweed tangles that ensnare you throughout low tide. She is fearful of sharks and different aquatic creatures approaching human measurement, however swimming is how she troopers on, in good occasions and dangerous. And so she braves the waters of the Bay, preventing to be current within the second, one morning at a time.
We maintain our distance, however we swim collectively.
Resilience is about sticking your head in water day-after-day, for an hour or extra, yr after yr. That’s the problem proper now — to not put your head down and ignore the world, however to place your head down and take in it. To bear in mind the right way to float, in spite of the burdens you carry.
In “The Swimming Song,” Loudon Wainwright III, the musician and bard of swimming who has by no means forgotten to deliver a swimsuit and goggles over his 5 many years of touring, wrote:
This summer time I went swimming
This summer time I may need drowned
But I held my breath and I kicked my toes
And I moved my arms round
His tune jogs my memory that, even within the face of worry, one can aspire to buoyancy.
These days, at 73, he has been swimming solely in Gardiners Bay, off the East End of Long Island. “There’s a lovely cold snap when you jump in,” he advised me just lately. “I saw a man last week in a wet suit and felt highly superior until I watched him cover a very substantial distance, much further than I would have gone. It’s all relative, I guess.”
We all have our distance left to go. To get by, we get in. To get on with it. To get by way of, and are available out — hopeful, and subtly altered — on the opposite facet.
Bonnie Tsui is the writer of “Why We Swim.”