Monday, July 19, 2010

Swimming Steady

I loved diving off the high dive.

It was around 1990. I was thirteen - a proud member of the Harper's Harpoons swim team. I'd climb to the top of that ladder in my requisite navy and red striped Arena swimsuit, pacing toward the edge of the board.

With each step, the board would bounce a little more, and I would cling to the railings a little tighter.

And then there I'd be, standing at the edge all by my lonesome, trying to summon the bravery of a thousand warriors before diving head first.

I'd look into the crystalline turquoise waters rippling below, arch forward with my hands pointed before me.

And then, plunge...

My little legs and arms would wave in a fury to propel me from the 13 foot depths until I could gasp at the surface.

It was a scary feat every time.

I always knew I could do it. I knew I'd survive. But being a girl who's terrified of heights (just looking down from atop the Empire State Building is enough to make me feel like Jimmy Stewart in Vertigo), I was always hesitant to surrender and lose control - if only for a split second.

I can't remember the last time I dove off a high dive.

These days, the breast stroke and a shady umbrella are my friends at the pool. I swim in the lap lanes with the old ladies and seek shadier spaces a la piscine to help me stave off those wrinkles (aside: ladies, I've taken to smearing on some night cream before bed - it appears to be doing wonders).

Lately, I've been toying with registering for the annual Great Ohio River Swim.

Seven years of swim team have molded me into a solid, safe swimmer who sometimes dreams of adventure swimming. I'd love to have the bragging rights of saying I swam across the great Ohio and back.

Hell, I always really wanted to swim to Tuxis Island, the island at the end of our street in Connecticut. My mom always pleaded with me to resist, saying the quarter mile distance was misleading because of the currents.


For now, I contemplate a great Ohio River adventure - dreaming about strokes and goggles and the cool water washing over me.

No high dive, but a scary feat nonetheless.

I know I can do it.

The Great Ohio River Swim hits the water at 7:30 am on Saturday, July 24. Registration is $25 prior to July 20, and $30 after the 20th through race morning. The course starts at the Serpentine Wall, crosses the river directly to Kentucky, and returns to Cincinnati's Public Landing. The distance is just over 900 meters (.6 miles). Click the link above for more information.

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