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Saturday, February 18, 2017

What Is Your Perfect Swim?

Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

Vito Bialla (California, USA): I have to say taking our swimmers out to the Farallones in September when the gray suits are there and swimming through the opening and around the small island [see photo on left]. Water temperature is 56 or 57°C; swim is 25 minutes huge swells. It's amazing how you pick up the pace the last 100 yards to get back in the boat.

Gary Emich, Alcatraz Swimming Society Emeritus: Nothing beats a Friday morning swim with the South End Rowing Club's Sunrisers. Toes in the water at 6:30 a.m. Head out to the opening of San Francisco's Aquatic Park, and depending on whether it's ebbing or flooding, turn left into the Bay towards the Golden Gate Bridge or right towards the Bay Bridge. And, we're really blessed if it's that time of year when we get to witness a spectacular sunrise over the Oakland Hills with pink, orange and purple clouds.

There is no better "swimming pool" anywhere - period. BUT, the best part of Friday's swim is what we've christened Beer Friday. After the swim, we head into the sauna to warm up; and we take turns bringing in samples of various craft beers - just enough to take a couple of sips & just enough to get the noise and laughter levels ratcheted up a notch or two above normal. I always walk out of the Club asking myself "do I come here for the swimming or for the entertainment and laughs in the sauna?"


Michael Miller (Hawaii, USA): I have not had one yet, I am still looking, thus I keep swimming.

Barry O'Connor (Ireland): It is one of those days when when the water feels like silk. You can move through it with very little resistance and you aren’t fighting or doubting, just gliding and feeling the peace.

Jacques Tuset (France): Swimming in open water gives me a feeling of freedom and escaping. To swim in a natural environment, without a wetsuit and without fins, gives me the sensation to be as free as water. It is in that state of mind that I love swimming from famous prisons located on islands to the closest continent all around the world. During the 21st century, the sentenced prisoners on prison islands gave up their place to tourists. Those old incarcerations sites became a real challenge to confront me with cold or hot waters, strong ocean currents, howling winds and marine life. Swimming, it is a passion for the pleasure and especially that feeling of escape. It brings for me a feeling of well-being and a sensation of surpassing myself.

Mackenzie Miller (Hawaii, USA): I love my Kailua Beach swims with my dad. We start at the boat ramp, swim down the buoys, then back to where we started, then we swim straight out to Flat Island which is about a quarter mile offshore, and we swim up along the left side to the backside, and swim back in. It's about a 45-55 minute swim. When swimming back in along the side of Flat Island, if there are waves, we body surf. Best part is that you see the bottom the entire time. Getting out to Flat Island, there's more coral and animal life, and my dad's favorite, fishing weights.

Bruckner Chase (New Jersey, USA): My last swim.

Pat Gallant-Charette (Maine, USA): I have to admit that I cannot decide on my perfect swim because I enjoy them all. I love swimming in tranquil water at sunset. The challenge of swimming in rough water is exhilarating. Swimming in cold water is an awakening and swimming in warm water is so relaxing and delightful. I love swimming on a warm sunny day in the cool waters off the coast of Maine. I love the sounds of seagulls squawking during an early morning swim. I love swimming during a heavy rainfall and then seeing a beautiful rainbow. Each swim is perfect.

Adam Walker: The Cook Strait is still my most memorable swim because of spending so much time in the wild with dolphins. However, my perfect swim would be Hawaii minus the Portuguese man o war. If you could swop that for a pod of dolphins like in the Cook Strait I would be grateful. Hawaii has great water temperature and the waters have a magical feel to them. I also love the people there so maybe that also has something to do with it. I will always feel a special connection having faced my toughest test in the Molokai Channel in Hawaii but it was also the swim I learned the most about myself.

Pam Lazzarotto (Canada): I like swimming mixed with adventure and friends, so open water swimming is perfect. Planning and having a training goal is all part of the perfect swim. Traveling to a new swim location with preferably warm beautiful water is ideal. A scrumptious meal after a long tough swim feels well deserved & special with swim pals.

Vicki Keith (Canada): My perfect swim is the one that I look back on with pride and the feeling that I overcame the greatest obstacles. During the double crossing of Lake Ontario, my goggles half filled with my tears as I fought for close to 4 hours through an upwelling of currents that halted my forward progress. Although I lost the speed record for the north-south crossing of the lake that day, I became the first person to complete the 100 km double crossing of the lake.

Christopher Blakeslee (California, USA): My perfect swim is an early morning swim in the breeding grounds of the Great White Shark in Tomales Bay with my Aussie buddy Canno. We wander down to our secret beach about 8 am as the sun is coming up over the Hills near Pt Reyes Station. Water at about 55°F is perfect and a contingent of seals escort us for our hour plus swim, then we retire to Toby's in Pt Reyes Station for an espresso.

Ben Stubenberg: The perfect open water swim for me is through the clear, warm, turquoise waters of the Turks & Caicos Islands. Every Sunday morning and Wednesday evening, we gather in front of a popular beach bar and begin our swim. We stop at designated points along the way to allow slower swimmers to catch up. We chat a bit and then continue to a small cove, sighting in on palm trees to navigate. During the morning swims, we might see a sting ray or barracuda. Sometimes we’ll see some dolphins playing. In the evening, we swim into the sunset. Those who want more of a strenuous workout or prep for a race do the same course again. For many of us, it is the highlight of our week.

Madhu Nagaraja (Canada): My perfect swim has evolved to hanging out with my closest friends: Mark, Loren, Darren, Steve E, Darren, Amie, Jason H, Juan, Brett, Lynn, France, Mauro, Lisa, John Z, Amy, Alan, Eileen L, Mark L, Alex, etc., who are not afraid to dream of all the crazy things that have never been done before.

Meeting them at Coronation Park on the banks of Lake Ontario just before sunrise [see photos on left]. Swim to the mysterious buoy which is about 750 meters out in the lake. The best part is we make sure everybody is safe in the water.

We hangout at the buoy and then head back to Coronation Park. This only gets better from here, as we get to hangout at our favorite local coffee shop BeanThere and talk about the swim, laugh at each other and then conceive plans to do more crazy things in life.

This reminds me of my childhood days. This perfect swim gives me an opportunity to be a child again.


Adrian Sarchet (Guernsey): My perfect swim is the one I didn't want to do. It's the swim you face when all hell has broken loose in the non-swimming parts of your life.

You are ill, have been working flat out for weeks and are exhausted. But instead of heading for bed like any sane person you head to the beach in freezing temperatures with the rain coming in sideways.

You stand on the beach thinking, 'Why am I even here?' And then you get into the water. It's like entering a lover's embrace. The feelings of illness and fatigue drop away - replaced by a buoyancy of soul that leaves you wondering how you could ever have been away from the sea for so long.


Harry Huffaker (Idaho, USA): An 6-mile round-trip outing across the bay on the Big Island between The Mauna Kea Beach Hotel and Puako with recently departed friend of 67 years, Mike Delaney. The only element missing for some open water fans would be suffering. Tropical beach setting beginning at Mauna Kea Beach. Three miles across to another sandy beach at Puako to be met by friends for a gourmet picnic to be enjoyed before swimming back across the bay to Mauna Kea Beach to enjoy a hot shower and cold beer before heading up to Mike's home in Waimea for a cold beer and a nap. During the swim watching palm trees and interesting coastline drift by. Warm water, pleasant sea state, sandy bottom, interesting marine life, no worries about being distracted by jet skis or navigational hazards, swimming side by side with arm strokes in synch and minds operating on the same wavelength.

Jennifer Figge (Colorado, USA): It was swimming my first length of a family friend's pool when I was 3. I can still see my mother and father cheering me on at the other end. Now, at 64, it is 30-40 days with no land in sight. 'Perfect' changes over time. It's really all about diving in.

Miquel Sunyer (Spain): My perfect swim is go swimming with friends on a summer day in Vies Braves, the public sea swimming lanes along Costa Brava and Costa Barcelona. These routes, from 0.5 km to 2 km, are marked with buoys and have information panels out of the water, and they allow everybody to explore the best swimming spots of Costa Brava and Costa Barcelona safely. Thanks to the Braves, I have discovered fascinating underwater landscapes. Besides, these routes run parallel to the coastal paths, so I usually combine swimming with running or walking.

Ted Erikson (Illinois, USA): To swim long and far in total solitude, connecting my inner soul ramblings to unfold the true connection(s) between water and life. As the "H" that connects to "O" making water, so does the "water "connects to the energies of living things to make what we call "life".

Calum Hudson (UK): River swims, nothing beats the ever-evolving nature of a river swim, the speed of the water the constant change of scenery and wildlife is hard to beat. The River Eden in Cumbria England, specifically a little spot called Lacy Caves, is my favourite. We used to spend summer afternoons as kid leaping from the rocks into the cool deep pools and sitting under the waterfalls that cascade into a natural plunge pool. There's also a little underwater cave you can swim through and also a cliff we named "The Tower" of which jumping off was a rite of passage into adulthood.

Steven Munatones (California, USA): I love swimming at a comfortable pace with swim buddies of similar speed over a coral reef in the bright sunshine around an island either in the South Pacific or Caribbean, finishing on a beach where he will relax over a barbeque lunch.

Swimmers also described their least favorite swim here.

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