Open Water Swimming – my First Experience (Part I)

I have played in the oceans, rivers, and lakes numerous times before. However, jumping into the water and playing with the waves cannot be classified as open-water swimming. Like most of the suburban and city kids in the US, I was introduced to swimming in the closed confines of the swimming pools (mostly indoor and some outdoor).   Once I was little over 7 and was able to make 10+ laps of the standard size pool, my confidence went through the roof and I truly believed that I was prepared for any water. The belief stayed with me for a while until the day of ‘reckoning’ arrived.

It was a late summer afternoon, the sun was still up and I was all geared up in a swimsuit, had my goggles on and for some reason I had decided against the swim cap. I slowly marched into the water of one of the local lakes like a valiant warrior. Hardly a few steps in, I stepped on a hard edgy rock (or something of that sort). I literally had a knee jerk reaction and almost fell on my back.

Expect the unexpected and always be careful where you step. Sharp objects or slippery surfaces are not out of ordinary for any open water bodies.

I regrouped all my courage and I marched along until the water was up to my chest. Then, I let myself go – moving away from the shore with slow strokes. The water in the lake was relatively calm and warm, and swimming wasn’t a struggle. I watched nervously some vegetation floating on water. A few times the thought of my legs getting entangled with ‘under grown’ vegetation and the possibility of coming face-to-face with one of the live creatures of the water crossed my mind. But I was glad, nothing of that sort happened (nevertheless, that is a possibility). So far, so good.

More stories, lessons learned and open water safety tips to share as I continue to walk down my memory lane…

– Meghna Sil


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