Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Kitsilano Pool AKA: My happy place

It was a three day weekend in the US, so the spouse and I took off for territories north to visit friends and family and eat vegan dim sum. One of my favorite things to do in the summer in Vancouver, BC is swim in the Kitsilano Pool. This pool is 137 meters long, salt water, outdoor on the beach, and absolute bliss.

The pool is so large I struggled to get a photo that showed the whole thing.

The water was perfect. Just warm enough to swim but not overheat. Clean. Clear. Only mildly salty. It was windy outside which made it a little cold when I got out. But perfect while swimming.

I did a mileish of laps, with 274 of just kicking. I've been wanting to improve my kick strength. The lap swimming is done by staying to the right of the two black lines you can see in the photo. Slower people go outside, faster inside. You can cross inside the line to pass if you need to.  Generally it was pretty well organized, even with a few dozen people swimming.  The pool is so long, you get spread out!

This pool is always on my list of places to go when I visit Vancouver between May Long Weekend and Labor Day!

Monday, May 23, 2016

Taste of the Water

In the past week I've had the pleasure of swimming in Puget Sound, Lake Washington and the pool at my local gym.  One of the things that struck me about the first swim back in the Lake, after a winter in Puget Sound, was that the water isn't salty!  It know, it isn't profound. It is definitely something I knew, intellectually.  But the realization was visceral.

I don't love the taste of Puget Sound. I know some of my fellow swimmers do. But the salt bothers me.  Lake Washington, doesn't have the salt taste, but it isn't really a clean taste either. It is always a bit "green" like there is something growing.  Which there is.

The best tasting lake I've swum in recently is Crescent Lake in Olympic National Park. The water had no taste at all.  It was amazing. So clean!  The color was remarkable too, blue, and clear deep enough to trigger my fear of heights as I came close to shore and could see the bottom again.

Crescent Lake

So although I don't try to drink the water (though I often get a face-full on a windy day) I am aware of the taste of what I swim in. Just one more reason to avoid polluting our waterways!

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Body Image and Bathing Suits

I've posted a lot of photos of myself in a swimsuit or wetsuit here on this blog.

So you probably all have a sense of what I look like. One of the things that swimming, and this blog, (and possibly being in my 40's and maybe having a good F-off Fairy) have done for me is given me an "I don't care" attitude about being photographed in my bathing suit.

I look at these photos and generally think "that was a great swim".  I'm focused on how much swimming helps me love my body. When I saw this meme, I thought "YES, that's it!!"

When I swim I remember who I am.  I get to absolute pleasure of feeling the power of my body move me through the water. I get the playful feeling of buoyancy lifting me off the ground. I get to be an orca.  I get the feel of the water on my skin. I get to sense the changes in temperature, in wave motion, in smell. Swimming helps me love my body and all it can do.

During a recent group swim, I heard one of the other swimmers refuse to be photographed in her bathing suit without a cover-up.  This made me sad.  Swimming is about celebrating my body.  Rejoicing in its strength. Enjoying the sensuality of the water.  Any photo taken just documents that joyful experience. Nothing could make me happier.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Rules of the water

Seattle has been under Viadoom 2016 for the last two weeks.  The Alaska Way Viaduct was closed as Bertha, the resident tunneling machine, dug her way underneath.  This created traffic chaos, and therefore a spin off group of the Notorious Alki Swimmers.  5 of us met at the usually meet up time this weekend, but at a different beach-- Golden Gardens.  This north end beach allowed us to not have to travel the viaduct to Alki and to still get in an open water swim.

However.  It was boating opening day.  So as we pulled up to Golden Gardens, we were greeted with probably 200 sailboats parked just off shore, luffing.  Our swim started around 9:30, and at precisely 10am, they all tacked and started to sail away.

Except there was no wind.  And there were TONS of boats in a very small area.  So some of them tacked toward the beach.  One of them came withing about three strokes of me.  The captian waved at me, so I know he saw me.  But it still made me uncomfortable.

Since boating season is now officially open, and swim season lasts all year, this is a good time to review the rules of the water.

Seattle Parks website outlines the rules for open water swimming as follows:

SMC 16.28.010 indicates that swimming is prohibited except:
  1. in designated swimming areas
  2. within 50 feet from shore, unless the swimmer is accompanied by a boat that is designed for both swimmer and boater, is within 25 feet of the swimmer and have lifejackets for all persons on the water
SMC 18.12.180 states that watercraft cannot operate within 75 feet of a swimming beach, and powered watercraft cannot operate within 300 feet of a swimming beach.

75 feet of a swim beach. This sailboat was MUCH MUCH closer.  I could not have been more than 20 feet out, as the line of sailboats was probably less than 75 feet out. 

I looked for further information to make sure I was in the clear.  Seattle Police list the following information about swimming:


Swimming (SMC 16.28.010)
Swimming in all the navigational waters of Seattle shall be prohibited except:
  • A: In designated swimming areas; or
  • B: Within 50ft from shore or a pier; or
  • C: Within 25ft of a vessel
Swimming is prohibited in:
  • Government Locks
  • Montlake Cut
  • Fremont Cut
  • Under any bridge
  • Within the confines of any guide wall
  • Within 300 feet of a ferry slip
  • Within 300 feet of a boat launch ramp
So basically, I was in the clear.  The sailboat was in the wrong.  However, being right is not helpful if you've been hit by a boat.  I will continue to practice defensive swimming-- wearing bright colors, keeping aware of boat traffic in the area, doing my best to make eye contact with the boaters, etc.

There were at least three times as many by the time we swam!

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Pool swimming

I swam in a pool today for the first time in months (possibly years).  I did laps for half an hour. It felt great.  But I also had totally forgotten what it feels like to swim in still water.  It is so easy.  With a stripe on the bottom to guide, the effort is simple.  I was able to just take pleasure in the motion of my body through water.

When I swim in the Sound, I wear neoprene gloves to keep my hands warm.  The ones I have are webbed, like this:

I kept forgetting, as I swam without, to cup my hands instead of spreading my fingers. I hadn't realized how automatic using the webbing had become.  Now that the weather is getting warmer, perhaps I'll have to leave the gloves behind a bit more.