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To Swim Again

On the Connecticut shores of the Long Island Sound, the water laps gently on the sand. The waves are typically small — no bigger than a foot at the most dramatic times each day. It’s serene and simple — a good place for kids to play, and to learn to swim.

The first time I saw the waves of the Atlantic Ocean, I was awe-struck. They were so big, so bold and so violent. Nothing like the waters of the Sound.

It’s in the gently Long Island Sound water that I learned to swim as a child. On the warm days of my childhood, you’d be hard-pressed to get me out of the water. I spent hours upon hours swimming and splashing around, doing handstands in the water and just having a good time. As I’ve gotten older though, that initial draw to the water has gotten more elusive. I still love swimming once I am in there … but getting to the point where I am? Well, that’s a little more complicated.

This summer, I’ve stood in the water. Splashed a little. Dipped my toes in. But I didn’t swim. Not once. I didn’t even come close — the water didn’t go past my waist.

As much as I love it, the desire to immerse myself in the salty water of the Long Island Sound has subsided substantially in recent years. The water never seems deep enough or it’s too hot or not hot enough or … I can go on and on. The excuses are as plentiful as delays I impose to swimming. But I still love to swim.

On the day I took this photo, I just wanted to feel the coolness swish around my ankles for a bit. But then I changed my mind. Stepping deeper and deeper into the water, my kids were giddy with excitement. And me? I longed to feel my arms and legs gliding through the water. Soon, I was. And once I was in the water, I didn’t want to get out again. It all made me wonder what I’ve been waiting for. Why have I been denying myself the pleasure of swimming?

For all the years I have spent at the beach, I have always admired the adults who wade into the water at high tide to swim laps along the shoreline back and forth, back and forth. Watching their bodies gracefully dance through the water brings a smile to my face — it’s beautiful.

Maybe it’s time for me to join them.

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