Swimming around

Next stop, the real pond out back

I found and fell in love with our current home online. Like a hopeful suitor, I scrolled through the photos and watched the artfully shot video again and again. The house, built in the 1970’s, was straight out of Dwell. Beautifully landscaped and surrounded by five forested acres, it also boasted an in ground swimming pool. Kidney shaped and forever azure in the looping video, ‘a sylvan pond’, according to the accompanying text.

We moved in just as the last of the snow was melting. Consumed with unpacking, it was mid June before the heavy green cover over the pool was peeled back. Beneath the chilly water lay a carpet of overwintered leaves and debris. Undaunted, I got right to work with a long-handled net and a brush and soon the pool was serviceable.

However, it didn’t stay clean for long. Leaves, pine needles, caterpillars, earthworms, all variety of amphibians and the occasional rodent all took the plunge, and most to ill effect. I began to suspect that it was in fact more pond than pool.

This summer I have been vigilant and yes, stubborn. Every morning I empty the filter baskets and fish the frogs and their leavings from the pool. I scoop worms and needles from the bottom, skim the leaves from the surface and scrub green algae off the sides. And, because I am going to all this trouble, I swim. Just about every single day. Breaststroke, twenty, thirty sometimes forty lengths. I love the cold shock as I first go under, the weightlessness, and how the sun glints off the water.  When I step out of the pool, I am breathless. Eschewing a towel, I lay in the warm air and let the water evaporate from my skin; it is all very reminiscent of summer in my childhood. And, by pushing against my physical limitations, I am thumbing my nose at cancer.

My daily swim: two parts stubbornness and one part pleasure.

20 responses to “Swimming around

  1. Linnea –
    Seriously, love your writiing. I look forward to your entries. Bravo, really.

  2. That picture of the frog is really cool, but I was coming here to say something so similar to what Dana said. Your writing moves me. Whenever I see “new post” next to your name, I stop what I’m doing to read it. I often wait to comment (sometimes DAYS!) because I’m still thinking about it and processing it. Just so glad I found you.

  3. What a fun post to read! My entire life I have wanted to have a pool! Last spring we were doing some house hunting until that was paused due to my cancer diagnosis. Recently my wife has been more tolerant of my pushing for maybe finding a new house with a POOL… your post gives me new energy for that project!

  4. On an LC journey, too and found your blog thru Inspire. love it. thanks for sharing with us. (PS…big fan of Dwell, too!)

  5. You are a trooper Linnea! Something therapeutic about pools and water and even little critters. All the best. Harry

  6. This summer I started (well, really continued, but now with a purpose) what I call my “swim for life.” Every day, even in the rain at times, I swim from our dock on Squam Lake, to a bouy, about 1/4 mile away. I am challenged by motorboat wake, protected somewhat by a nearby reef, and every single time I do it I am renewed. It is as close to a “religious” experience as any I’ve had, and now that a lesion of my lung cancer has decided to challenge my femur, it’s also the only form of exercise I can do painlessly…and I do mean completely without pain, and with great pleasure. I’ve always been a fish, since childhood I’ve spent my happiest hours in the water, but now I think it is critically important to maintaining my hold on stability (both of my cancer, and of my mental health. Keep on swimming…and may we have a long, warm autumn!

    • Marj, this is beautiful, what you have shared.

      I’ve always preferred ‘natural’ swimming, although I know that first plunge is pretty brisk. May you keep on swimming (and I presume you will move indoors at ice in!).


  7. Hi Linnea- So many intersections! Frogs, and now swimming. Many years ago on the frozen campus of SUNY Buffalo I regularly swam about a mile, a few nights per week, in a vast over-chlorinated, overheated pool. I envy you the frogs and bracing waters. It was always interesting to walk home in below-zero weather after a warm sojourn in the drink. I am with you as you do those laps, buoyant and strong.

    Thank you for your kind birthday greetings. The puppy-sitting is aging me far faster than the years! Next year I will be 70.
    Love you friend,

  8. Joan, you are too funny!

    I was once an inveterate lap swimmer as well–also logging a mile at a time. YMCA’s, health clubs and community centers across the US. I think maybe we’ve just always known each other…at least, I like to think so 🙂

    love you back, Linnea

  9. Hi Linnea,
    Happy to see your post. Enjoy your swim. I can’t swim even I did tried to learn in college. But my granddaughter is doing so well in her swimming lessons. She is only four and can swim across the pool one time. It was funny to see her in action.
    Take care.

    • Joan, good to hear that your granddaughter has taken to swimming; across the pool at four is very impressive!


  10. “We cannot see our reflection in running water. It is only in still water that we can see.” – From anonymous Zen quotes
    – Keep on swimming Linnea.

  11. I heart Dwell. 🙂

    Keep on thumbing that nose at cancer!

  12. Kim, I heart Dwell too. I just read your latest blog and I am so sorry. And the photo that you posted is really, really beautiful. Thumbs up!


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