Art education, inspiration and encouragement for children and parents in Arlington, VA
Saturday morning swims at Robinson Beach on Whidbey Island take place year round at 8:30 a.m. The host, Teresa, brings hot chai, other swimmers bring home baked goods. When I moved here in July I had already decided to swim whenever I could. It was what we did when I was younger. I've never lived by the sea. It turns out, it's easy and fun to swim in 45°-55° water with an enthusiastic sea-loving crowd.
Whidbey Parks and Recreation hold clinics during the summer for new open water swimmers. It was there I learned about currents, tides, the particular beaches and lakes on Whidbey. I also learned about wet-suits, goggles, hypothermia, and being a safe swimmer. We went on swims where we each had a mentor to swim alongside us. It was a great introduction to swimming in a new, adventurous and supportive way.
Fifteen swimmers are on the beach on this foggy morning donning wetsuits. Teresea and John are in swimsuits only. Four people walk toward the water initiating the start. "Burrr" repeats one swimmer. One by one, we submerge into the water, buddy-bags following behind; orange luminescent ovals gliding on the cool gray water.
Several strong, long-time swimmers will do a two-mile swim. Everyone has their own goals and there’s no competition. My goal: show up and get in the water. I'm taking it in: a sea gull glides close overhead, a dark kelp bulb wanders by, crabs skittle across the sandy bottom.
I can see by the sea lettuce rolling on the floor the current is moving north toward Bush Point Park, one of the many ways I've learned to tell the direction of the current. At the end of my swim I am rewarded today by seeing my first starfish on the sea floor. "There's a big orange one up where I was" a man shares.
Ashore, the group gets into warm, dry clothes, among the sandy driftwood, holding a hot chai in shaking hands; tasting home-made goodies. “How was the swim?” We all share one thing in common: love of swimming and the enriching, invigorating feel of the sea.
As I sit in the heated car seat looking forward to a warm shower at home, I'm grateful for this experience and looking forward to the next swim in the sea with my new island neighbors.
Here's an article about open water swimming on Whidbey including the clinics and some of the people mentioned in this article. Clinics are over until next year, but it's never too late to get excited and interested, curious and prepared for open water swimming: