Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Breakthrough: Raphaella Swims in the Gulf

I'm 62 yrs old and today was the first time I went swimming in the Ocean. It was actually the Gulf on the West Coast of Florida but, hey, it counts! I'm from Minnesota - Land of 10,000 Lakes. No oceans there. When I ventured out to LA in the eighties, I was excited to go to the Santa Monica Beach. I stood in the water about calf high and suddenly was pulled in by an undertow. Yikes. Scared me silly. I thought it was a riptide until today when my friend, Susanne explained the difference between an undertow and a riptide. But, alas, I never again ventured out past the shoreline.

Years later, here I am living in Venice on the Gulf. I enjoy walking on the beaches so I invited Susanne to Caspersen Beach yesterday. She asked about swimming and when I explained that I "didn't know how to swim in the ocean" she said she'd go with me and show me the ropes. Her friends suggested Manasota Beach because of the lifeguard and flags indicating safety of the water. I did some research online last night and met her at 8:30 this morning. Surprised the lifeguard wasn't on duty at that hour of the day, we were emboldened by a dozen senior citizens hanging out in the water about 30 yards from shore. We put on our goggles (and I my noseplug) and entered the water. It was perfect and warm. As we waded out, we felt it was perfectly fine to swim lengths between the seniors and the shore, within the two buoys that we felt marked the safe swimming area. Off we went - seeing the shells on the ocean floor and the fishes swimming around us, tasting the salty water, hearing the seagulls and people talking, and feeling the silky water on my skin, I felt exhilarated. It wasn't just the sensory thrills, but the joy of doing something I didn't think I could do. So easy it was. So freeing. I'm basking in gratitude tonight.