Okay. That thing I said a few weeks ago about having had my last lake swim of the season? I was wrong. My definitive final lake swim was the last weekend in September. That weekend, and the entire week preceding it, was gloriously warm and sunny every day. Although I had not dipped my toe in the water since Labour Day, the balmy weather induced optimism that the lake was warmer than it looked.
If you are like me, if you go to the trouble of putting on your bathing suit and finding a towel that doesn’t smell like it hasn’t been washed since last year and locating a pair of old sandals that can function as water shoes because the water shoes have been put away somewhere that does not immediately come to mind (which is a bit of an issue, since if their location does not immediately come to mind mere days after they’ve been put away, this does not bode well for finding them next spring) and walking all the way down the hill to the dock, it behooves you to actually go in the water.
Since you asked, my technique for entering the water at the times of year when the felicitousness of the water temperature is uncertain, is to descend the three rungs of the swim ladder and stand on the rock ledge below to give my legs time to acclimatize. Acclimatization can take some time. How long it takes depends on two factors: how many people can see me and how far away they are. If nobody’s around, acclimatization can take quite a while, as I assess whether or not I can feel my knees, forecast the temperature impact on my armpits, and just generally put off immersion as I talk myself into, then out of, then into, then out of, changing my mind. However, the minute a boat comes by or my neighbour floats by on her paddleboard, or the guy across the way gets out his Seadoo, the sense of urgency of achieving full lake entry cannot be ignored. Otherwise, I look like an idiot. A cowardly idiot, at that.
I must also admit the swimming of which I speak would not necessarily be classified as swimming by people who actually swim. Don’t get me wrong. I do know how to swim. I learned in the icy, open water of the Ottawa river. I am the proud owner of a Junior Red Cross badge, the price of entry to the second raft, located inches from the drop off that goes all the way to China. However, once I gained that honour, I saw no point in continuing to prove I could swim. These days, my swimming always involves a fat pool noodle, the better to bask and lounge in the water, rather than exert effort to stay afloat. And in my own defense, is supreme effort, since I seem to be related to the granite that populates my shoreline.
It’s October. Swimming’s over. Waaaaaah!