Tuesday, July 26, 2011


Me, underwater.
This is me. In the water. Like you know I like it.

Over the past three years, I've become a fairly obsessive swimmer. I've done some things I'm pretty proud of, like became an open water swimmer at age 45, swam a 5K (against current), and made a second 3.2 mile swim with a friend. Like plunged into waters not much more than 53 degrees, swam with jellyfish and bunkerfish and other such unmentionables that got stuck down my bathingsuit and stung up my back. I'm not the bravest girl in the world (check out my first few open water swim posts, here if you want to see how far I've come:  http://gpolisner.blogspot.com/2010/05/do-something-new.html,  http://gpolisner.blogspot.com/2010/06/conquer-and-fail-but-more-conquer-than.html, http://gpolisner.blogspot.com/2010/06/to-fresh-water-or-salt-water.html,    http://gpolisner.blogspot.com/2010/06/lure-of-body-parts-and-kissing-baby.html), but I've pushed myself in ways I never thought I could. I was never much of an athlete, now I sort of am.

Me, center, coming out of the water
with the girls.
My goal this summer is still to swim 5 miles. It may be this summer, it may be next, depending on who I can get to go with me (and finding a boat-safe route).

I've been relatively proud of myself. I mean, after all, these are pretty cool things. 

But, man oh man, how we push ourselves is all relative. A few weeks ago, a fellow POD member sent us an email about Diana Nyad. If you don't know who she is, you should. I've become pretty obsessed with her, if you must know. Especially if you're over the age of 40, you should spend a minute checking her out, because I'm telling you right now, she can change how you view middle age.

At 61, Diana is poised to swim 103 miles from Cuba to Florida through shark and poisonous jellyfish infested waters. Without a wetsuit, without a shark cage and without rest. At least, she's poised to try. That's 60+ hours in the ocean. Not the little harbor off the cozy Long Island Sound where I swim, people! That's a whole different roiling ball of water.

I swim for an hour or two,
then have a nice little shower.

By the end of the swim, her tongue will be swollen, her skin will be salted and stung raw, and she will be suffering pretty badly from hypothermia. And, of course, that doesn't factor the sharks. . .

To "warm up" for the swim (which is about to start any day -- she's waiting for water temperatures to settle at 86 degrees) she did a 24-hr ocean swim. She's set records before. All her life. She doesn't need to do this again. But she wants to keep pushing herself to try.

For her sake, I hope she makes it all the way; for my sake, it doesn't matter at all. Finish or not, she's already inspired me. With every stroke I take, with every mostly-innocuous jellyfish that slips through my fingers as I swim.

Cheering you on, Diana! Thank you.

- gae


  1. I love the rolling hills of Chester County, but I'll always miss living so close to the water. (OK, you've seen me write this probably a dozen times. ...but it's still true. ;-)

    Anyway, it's nice to see that you really make use of the water and don't take it for granted.

  2. Oh, and the fact that I read this and commented must mean that I give a flying f*** about your blog posts. ;-)

  3. Wow, YOU already impressed me enough. Now I have to throw you aside in favour of Diane Nyad. Sorry Gae. (but still, why no wetsuit for her???)

    Okay, just joking, you're still my hero.

  4. thanks, Chris. And since this is my regular old blog, not my YA one (that's the Wee Bit Heap one), feel free to toss the f word around. :)

    Barb, I really don't get that either about the wetsuit except she's being a purist: marathon swimmers don't wear wetsuits when they're competing (although now it seems that some sanctioned races have added separate wetsuit divisions). Because wetsuits are buoyant, they are considered an aid or assist to a natural swim. This season, as soon as the water got warm enough -- above 70 degrees or so -- I switched to a long suit (which is just a bathingsuit that covers my arms and legs to protect against jelly fish/sunburn but has NO neoprene or other buoyancy to it) and I do feel the difference. You have to work a little harder and that makes you a little slower than my friends who keep their wetsuits on all season.

  5. here's more from Diana as she gets ready to embark. How unfathomable. How cool. How.