For more swimming stories, photos and videos, click on Swimming as Meditation, on right. 

As summer wears on, I’m very aware that good swimming days are numbered. Soon, the nights will turn so cool, the water won’t heat up enough during the day to make it comfortable to slip into the lake or even some outdoor pools. That’s when I reluctantly return to the Y pool, which I love in the winter, but would rather not go to in August or even September.

For the swimmers among us, here are links to some interesting swimming stories:

The difficulties and expense some people are willing to go to, just to find water

Pool wars in one city’s big, new municipal pool

Jane Brody reminds us water heals, but can also harm

Be mindful when you swim

Practice swimming as meditation 

For much, much more on this topic, click on Swimming as Meditation on the right.

This, from Birds reader and long-time friend Ellen Mendlow:

“Instead of standing on the shore convinced that the ocean cannot carry us, let us venture onto its waters, just to see.”
-P. Teilhard de Chardin

One day I went to tea and met a couple just celebrating their 1st year in a relationship. They’d met at work – he shy and she nervous and both coming off failed relationships. Celebrating a year in Cape May

Seconds after I took the sunset pictures a young couple approached breathlessly begging a photo of them…I was annoyed to be interrupted in my solitude. But the girl beamed “we’ve just been engaged” and I relented taking several pictures against this beautiful backdrop.  They literally had just pledged 15 minutes before…and had told no one.

That night, I woke suddenly from my sleep and though I should have stayed in bed I really, really felt I wanted to go to the shore, so in a half conscious stupor I got up and walked across Ocean Drive. Three doors down were some young folks having a party and they were also headed to the beach. Again I felt invaded in my peace (at 1:30 AM no less!)…but I followed a girl in a long white dress—she’d been married  that day and, still in her wedding gear, was headed with her party for a late night plunge in the ocean. I told her about the other couples I’d met and the sense of seeing the whole story (courtship, commitment, wedding) in one weekend…how I got up just in time to witness this  — she said it was the best story she’d heard and she regaled her wedding party with it all night.

Adams Reservoir, Woodford, VT
Water holds a mystical power over me, more today than when I was younger. I swim, I kayak, I soak in a hot tub, I take showers whenever my joints cry to be soothed or my soul needs an energizing boost.    

In Vermont, ponds and even pools are cool, almost cold, even on the hottest days. Once you’re in and moving, the crisp temperature is all you could ever ask for, but don’t go in one toe at a time.

I have access to outdoor swimming pools and a dozen ponds or reservoirs in two states, so I carry gear in the back seat of the car that lets me swim on a whim. Rubber-soled “lake shoes” keep my feet safe from rocks and muck. If the sun is high, I wear full-length rashers to block UV from my ultra-sensitive skin and wacky immune system. Kids gawk at the sight of an old lady in surfer garb, but I just smile and, on the way out of the water, I comment on how the waves suck at this beach.

Sometimes I don’t even swim, but  just go out up to my neck, letting let currents pull me from side to side. If I need to build up strength in my severely arthritic lower body, I cross country ski in the deep stuff, or bicycle back and forth across the pool. Then I do side stroke and back stroke, both very meditative forms of swimming.  

Green River, Halifax VT, Spring 2010
A doomed Piscean, I’d rather be IN water than not, but if I’m on land, chances are I’m looking at one body of blue stuff or another. Our walls are filled with artwork I’ve collected over the years, most of it involving something aqueous. After all, I spent some years living and working on Long Island, New York, where I wrote a book about life on that (very crowded) Atlantic sandbar. 

My husband loves boats, so we’re drawn to coasts and marinas when we travel. Up here in the mountains, we can always find streams or lakes to play in or photograph, any time of the year, frozen or liquid.  

Lake George NY, August 2009
Monterey Bay CA, May 2010
Here are some photos and video I took in and around the Monterey Bay Aquarium this spring.

Pacifica CA, May 2010
Tuna at MBA, May 2010
Leafy Sea Dragon at MBA
Moon Jellyfish at MBA
Black Sea Nettles at MBA, May 2010
For mesmerizing video of jellyfish and sea nettles, go to the Monterey Bay Aquarium's own video at

If you want to swim with the fishes without getting wet, go to the MBA kelp forest exhibit and sway with the water plants and animals to hypnotic music. Try not to go when it’s busy, like we did. Too many people making too much noise, but click on the arrow and enjoy the show anyway. See the shark?
For more in this series, click on Swimming as Meditation in the index on the right.
Also, see Cari Shane Parvin's Zen of Swim at