I have been blogging about swimming a lot recently, hence the title of this blog post. Clever, huh?

Editor’s Note: No.

Anyway, I have been blogging a lot about water since I have been swimming across Lake Michigan this summer in my backyard pool. After swimming more miles than expected in July, it became mathematically apparent that I would likely make my mileage goal by the end of summer. I started to think about finishing with a flourish or grand gesture, and I had one in mind.

I was aware of this event as I had considered competing in it in my younger days.

I certainly couldn’t finish the 5K (3.1 miles) unless I was being towed by a boat. But I had done a mile open water swim in July, so I am pretty sure I can slog slowly through the 2.5K (1.55 miles) course. Oh, you’re asking why it is called the Big Shoulders swim?

Editor’s Note: Nobody asked.

Well, Chicago was called the City of Big Shoulders by poet Carl Sandburg. Of course, he also called Chicago the Hog Butcher for the World. I think the swimming race organizers chose the better name.

And there’s another reason.

Swimming gives you big shoulders, duh! I recently discussed with a couple of dear friends if they feel stronger now at our advanced ages than when we were all young bucks.

Editor’s Note: In his younger days, Jim was barely fawn-like and definitely not a young buck.

Anyway, they do not. I do. I call it my old man strength. My upper body is a V shape now. My sportcoat size has grown from a 40 to a 44 because of my chest and shoulders getting bigger after decades of swimming. When my college football-playing youngest son and I moved some furniture, I was surprised when he struggled a bit and I did not. Maybe I should clarify. That V-shaped upper body is more like a V with the pointed bottom stuck deep into a muffin top.

That seems about right. Still squishy around the middle, but the shoulders are definitely bigger. At least when I took my 2 youngest daughters to the beach and was lying in the sand, nobody tried to roll me back into the water to “save” me. Progress!

As I read on about the Big Shoulders swim, it became apparent that it was not the right event for me, at least not this year.

Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t like the vibe of risking my life in open water on the date of the 20th anniversary of a huge historical tragedy. In addition, mid-September in Chicago means any sort of weather and Lake Michigan water temperatures that can be imagined.

Finally, although I am fairly confident I wouldn’t come in last, based on published 2019 race times, I would finish toward the tail end. In these local races, the other swimmers are all good sports and tend to clap and cheer for the back-of-the-packers as they emerge from the water. I’m not ready for that. In my distant triathlon past, I was one of those cheering for those bringing up the rear. I am not sure I am ready to be the rear.

Editor’s Note: Feel free to add your own punchline to that last set-up line. If you can’t think of a punchline, you are reading the wrong blog.

Anyway, I shrugged and crossed the Big Shoulders swim off my list. Next year? Maybe.

I thought of extending my summer swimming distance to a marathon length of 26.2 miles. That’s 4.2 miles added to my planned total. But the first thing I did after finishing my Lake Michigan distance was to take 2 days off from swimming. It got to be a chore the last couple of weeks. But I’m back in the pool now, and I have the itch to try some more non-race open water swimming before summer ends. We’ll see how far I go before I drain the pool for the season. Right now, I can claim I made it across Lake Michigan.

Now, who can give me a ride home from the Indiana Dunes?


3 thoughts on “Waterblogged!

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