Open Water Swimming Was Open – Part 1

At my age, with a pandemic still raging all around, when there is something I want to do, I know I best do it quickly or maybe never have the chance. I mentioned in a recent post that I want to take my swim across Lake Michigan out of pools and into open water. I wasted no time and did just that this past Saturday.

I found a great lake to do an open water swim, but not a Great Lake. It wasn’t a good weekend to head to Lake Michigan (one of the 5 Great Lakes) to swim, because we are fostering 2 puppies. Who wants to see puppy pictures and video? Well, maybe if you’re nice and like this post, or better still, beg me, I’ll post some puppy stuff. Anyway, I found a great lake just about 40 minutes up the river from us that was hosting a morning open water swim in beautiful, crystal clear waters. Take a look …

It was nothing like the lake in the neighborhood we lived in for 20 years. Well, maybe our former neighborhood lake was more of a large pond than a lake, but I found it quite swimmable. Of course, I also find our 15 foot diameter pool swimmable as well as large rain puddles.

Anyway, that neighborhood pondish lake was home to fish, turtles, frogs, and me every year from about May through September. It was one of those green lakes where if I was treading water, I couldn’t see my legs. It was all good though, very natural and harmless, except if you swim with stitches, like I did once. Then the stitches act as wicks to bring bacteria into the body to create a lovely infection. Too bad for me the stitches were the result of my vasectomy. My golf balls turned into baseballs.

But the lake this past Saturday is so sparkling clean and clear that modesty kept me from taking my swimsuit off, which I sometimes do. You see, I learned how to swim in the nude in high school. Oh, and with a swim cap on. Don’t believe it? Here’s a link to read or listen to the story behind boy’s nude high school swimming. But this lake was full of people in full wetsuits, and some even had inflatable floaties they towed behind them. In fact, I had to save one of their lives. I’ll tell you about that in a bit.

My plan was to swim 2 laps around the 850 meter (half mile +) course. I could see all the wetsuited ones setting their waterproof watches to time their laps. My competitive juices flowed. I hope those juices didn’t foul the lake too much. As soon as I slid into the water to swim out to the course, my competive switch flipped off. It felt so lovely out there that I decided just to enjoy and savor one lap around as I took my time.

I swam over and spoke to every lifeguard sitting on a kayak out there. They told me that it is an exceedingly clean lake, because they don’t allow any external watercraft and zero with gas engines. They agreed with me that the water was cool but too nice for wetsuits. And the tow-behind floaties?

I could see the lifeguards viewed those as a threat, and with good reason. Now I can regale you with a ripping yarn about how I saved a life out there. I was taking my time out there lolling about in the water, when I heard coughing. I looked to my left and saw one of the wetsuited ones with a floatie in a bit of distress. He was struggling. Maybe he had swallowed some seaweed or a fish or someone else’s stupid floatie. I caught the eye of the nearest lifeguard. It was a glass one that must have popped out. I signaled to the lifeguard where the wetsuited one in distress was. The lifeguard asked, “Are you okay?” By that time, the wetsuited one was resting on their floatie and gave a thumbs-up. Life saved! Oh, you say I didn’t actually save his life? Well, what if I had gone over and punctured their floatie? They may have drowned. I didn’t, so they were safe.

After my one lap out in the open water, I did swim a few laps in a lap swim area. By the end of my morning in the lake, I had done about a mile. And for good measure, I swam a bit later that evening in our little pool. With another solid day of swimming on Sunday, I am way ahead of the pace I need to keep to swim across Lake Michigan this summer.

Well, I guess that neatly wraps up this scintillating post. Except, the Part 1 part of the title implies there will be a Part 2. Hmm. Oh, right, I forgot to tell you about the man I met by the women’s restroom after the swim who made me almost do a very, very bad thing. Stay tuned!

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