Carrying On

It’s now mid-January. A few stalwart members of my OW swim friends are still swimming in the Sound, me included. Temps on the east side of the island are around 45F now.

We try to get a mile in, but this time of year a lot can vary that: strong currents, rough water, or driftwood and debris dragged out to sea during a storm. These can be tricky to spot (not to mention dangerous) when the waves get big.

Driftwood makes better art than a swim companion in windy conditions.

Last week we experienced all the crappy conditions together: currents, rough and murky water, logs and grass and all kinds of crap on the surface. Thought I saw a condom float by me at one point. I told myself it was white seaweed and carried on.

Because that’s what OW swimmers do: we carry on. Whether it’s sunny, flat, and clear water; or zero visibility, white caps, and snowing.

Calm sunny winter days are my favorite swims of the year. The beach is empty, the water still, and I can simply soak up the serenity of it all. And that warm shower after?  Pure bliss.

Winter sun low in the sky at Bowman Bay.

But sometimes a day like last week, when not a single condition is cooperating, is just the challenge both my mind and body need.

To most people, this sounds slightly masochistic and absolutely nutters. 

But the best part is I’m not alone in my crazy. There’s always two or three or even five others that must get the same charge as me, because they keep showing up to swim, ready to get in and carry on through waves, logs, condoms, and the f#%-all conditions. 

These are friends that shiver next to me at the picnic table after we get out. The ones trying like hell to take off their gear and pull up their sweat pants with the same frozen unworkable fingers as me. 

Staying in the warm car as long as possible before a swim at Robinson Beach.

We try to help each other out, we really do. But usually we end up laughing so hard at each other that we’re left completely useless in our mirth and hysterics.

I realize this most likely has something to do with post-swim endorphins. Ooh I love those endorphins!

But that’s swim-friendships for you, and I’m so grateful for every one of them. They make the mid-winter carrying-on bit a lot more fun.

–TJ Wiley Forsyth

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