Let me start off by saying that I don’t feel like I am on vacation if I do not swim. That is not the only thing that I ever want to do while on a trip, but it definitely tops my list. I am not talking about competition swimming, just the leisurely relaxing activity that can be done in a small pool, lake, stream, or ocean.
I prefer warm, tropical water, but taking a dip in frigid environments is never out of the question. I have taken several cruises over the years, and I always look forward to tropical beaches and the warm, clear Caribbean waters that accompany such vacations. When we took our children on an Alaskan cruise, those who knew me laughed at the thought of me being on a cold water vacation without a chance to swim. I sent them pictures of me at the Mendenhall Glacier, swimming in the glacial stream with icebergs floating past.
While on a Mediterranean vacation, I looked forward to basking in the warm waters of the Mediterranean and Aegean Seas and couldn’t wait to get there. After all, the crystal clear waters that I had seen in pictures reminded me of the Caribbean. I didn’t realize, though, that the Mediterranean is roughly the same latitude as Lake Superior and just about as frigid.
We were in Mykonos, Greece, and the sea looked spectacular. I declined an offer to accompany my wife and some of our friends on a shopping excursion and opted to spend a few hours at the beach. While there were plenty of people enjoying the warm sunshine on the beach, nobody was swimming. After making a quick observation to make sure the water was not infested with Jellyfish, I stepped in and realized why everybody was staying on the shore. It almost felt like Alaska all over again, but that didn’t stop me. After a bit of time of enjoying the water, two others joined me. One was a lady from Wisconsin who swims regularly in Lake Superior, and another was a man from Scotland who swims in the North Sea. Nobody else, not even the locals, ventured into the water, but I was on vacation and felt the need to swim.
Two years ago, while visiting relatives in Micronesia, we were on a small speedboat, making our way to an outlying island. With no land in sight, the boat overheated and stalled. As far as I was concerned, when you are stranded in a small boat in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, there is only one thing to do. To everyone’s horror, I jumped in, followed by one of the local islanders. Apparently, most people felt that it was not a good idea to swim where the water depth is measured in miles instead of feet. For me, however, it was paradise. Diving under and seeing crystal clear blue water in all directions is one of the most wonderful thing that a person could do.
Swimming is my favorite recreational activity. To me, a vacation without swimming is not a vacation at all.