Returning to the cool briny waters of the San Francisco Bay after an extended 3-week break, though jetlagged, I was ready to swim again. My shoulder was finally feeling better and it was time to re-establish my routine. A chilly 49 degrees, the water was not as inviting as I recalled. It was daunting. The process of acclimating to the water was not going to be particularly enjoyable.
As I inched my feet towards the water’s edge, it seemed like my very first time. Nerves swirled within me, stirring me to action. Covered in goose bumps, my skin was already displaying shades of blue, matching my swimsuit. I like to say “it’s all about the outfit,” but this blue spectrum meant I was cold even before submerging my body in the water. As the waves crawled closer to my toes, I shuffled back across the cold damp sand. Back and forth I moved across the sand as the water crawled towards me only to retreat back into the bay.
Finally, as if instinctively drawn back towards the water, I shuffled down the gentle slope. Surrendering to the cold nagging at my toes, I stood in silence. Caught off guard for the briefest of moments, suddenly my ankles were submerged. My bones ached like never before. Perhaps it was the jet lag - whatever the excuse - I lasted 10 minutes.
The next day, I dreaded repeating this experience. Yet once again I was dancing back and forth along the shore. The waves pulled me towards them. An overly enthusiastic dance partner, the water ignored my apprehension and the show continued. Unable to remember the routine we practiced day in, day out last year, I decided to surrender to the music and throw my body into the embrace of the water. I dove in. Moving my hands through the water, I was struck by how uncomfortable it was for me. A dull ache permeated though each of my finger bones.
But I quit long before I gave myself the chance to recall the routine. In fact, I halved the swim from the day before by 50%. Feeling terribly guilty for showering longer than I had swum, I chided myself. "You swam the Channel, but now you can’t even swim a cove!!"