I’ve often said that the purpose of swimming is the pursuit of happiness. (If you haven’t had the same thought, consider that the Dalai Lama has written that the purpose of life is the pursuit of happiness.) Indeed, my main reason for swimming open water events is anticipation of the happiness they’ll bring.
My latest event, the Little Red Lighthouse Swim on Sept 20 was no exception. I entered as an afterthought after my long-time swim buddy Dave Barra agreed to swim the entire distance side-by-side (and occasionally stroke-for-stroke) with me. I’ll list just a few of the reasons I experienced happiness during this swim.
Dave and I have swum over a hundred miles together in open water—many of them synchronizing our strokes. In March 2010, we swam 10 miles across Maui Channel, swimming every stroke in synch. Swimming in synch with Dave has always made me happy. Reason #1.
The swim started at Pier 95 on the Hudson River, at 56th St and traveled 7.8 miles north, passing under the George Washington Bridge at around 6.3 miles. Swimming under bridges that most people only get to drive over has always made me happy. Reason #2.
Our wave started at 3:15 pm (timed to coincide with flood tide–the Hudson flows both ways) and finished at 6:10pm. It was brilliantly sunny the entire swim with the sun setting over New Jersey near the end.
Swimming on Dave’s left , every 6th stroke as I breathed to the right, I saw the sun glinting off Dave’s blue-tinted goggle lenses. That glimpse of sun glint about every 6 seconds made me very happy. I literally had a smile on my face for nearly the entire 2 hours and 51 minutes it took us to reach the finish. Reason #3.
The water was quite choppy for the final half but I was able to maintain a weightless head even in the chop. That felt fantastic. Reason #4.
It was the last day of summer. What better way to celebrate the end of summer than swimming in open water with 300 fellow enthusiasts. Reason #5.
The post-race awards took place, after sunset, against a backdrop of the beautifully lit ‘George’ (as traffic reporters refer to the bridge) a sight I’ll long recall with pleasure. Reason #6.
My 2014 open water season has one more event, the New York Aquarium 5K this Saturday, Sept 27 at Coney Island. A day later I leave for Martha’s Vineyard for a week of early fall swimming in Vineyard Sound and various kettle ponds. Almost too much happiness to contemplate.