Best swim of the year / log #002
When we look back on the last 12 months in the water.
Rounding off the year, I’ve been thinking of my list of swims. They include some of the best times I’ve had this year, but aren’t all so easy to describe.
Rainy days in Valencia, where I cautiously stepped under a waterfall and floated through a thermal spring. The American tourists kept their clothes on. “Hard to please,” according to our guide.
The modest Hébert pool near Gare Du North in Paris, where I was surprised to find people swimming under the opened roof. I added some notes about the simple pleasures of this dip in the margins of Paris à la Nage.
Or a quick dip in the sea during a theatre festival in an abandoned pool. A friendly nod to another festival guest, who also couldn’t resist the waves while the next performance was going on without us.
I’ve been trying to keep track of my swims in many ways throughout the years.
On a map, with different layers for “places I went swimming”, “places I went to bath” (spas and saunas), and “places I want to visit in the future.”
In my running app, which I used for running during lockdowns in 2020. I started adding my swims and have done so for the third year in a row now.
With souvenirs and pictures from swimming locations. A branded cap, some soap or a small bag of sand. And a shelf full of books on swimming and bathing.
I keep dreaming of the ultimate system, which in my imagination is a box of numbered stock cards with descriptions of swimming spots, related anecdotes, and pictures.
This year, I’ve enjoyed the simple list system of Life in the Medium Lane. I came across this ambitious-but-not-impossible goal of 50 different spots in a year, making up a great list. Check out their swim number 30, a wonderful Edwardian pool in Manchester.
Unfortunately, I will not make it to 50 myself, with only 38 different spots throughout the year. That is if I counted correctly of course. Makes me think, should add them to the map?
I also enjoy swimming lists in book form. Especially during winter, when I stick to my regular spots, I love diving into other people’s swimming adventures.
Kirsten van Santen introduced herself via Twitter, and we ended up going for a swim in Antwerp. Chatting about our observations in pools and lakes, I got very curious about her book and was not disappointed. ‘Water Pakken’ is a collection of swims in the Netherlands, and includes voices of swimmers, poets, and authors. She includes a map with the described spots on her website, useful also for foreign swimmers heading for the Dutch waters.
My list of 2022 includes 24 newly added spots, but the others are my local hangouts. Returning to well-known territory is a special kind of pleasure, sharing the water with the regulars and catching up with the lifeguards. Knowing which shower is extra warm and which one is cold. Finding that path to the quietest place to enter the lake.
In my pond, I rarely go for an evening swim in winter. Riding my bike after work, going into the cold water and riding home after, without food - it just seems like too much. I prefer Sunday mornings.
Yet the pond still manages to surprise me. It was cold. It was dark. I was hungry. But just above the water’s surface bats were hunting. We could see them dive through the air, while navigating the dark water in between the trees. What else is hiding from me at impractical hours?
For now, all the best for 2023! ✨ May your year be filled with swims where the water has just the right temperature.
I’m looking forward to new lanes to explore next year. Please let me know if you’ve found the perfect way to track them.
Thank you, Mike. https://govalencia.tours/tour-item/hot-springs-daily-tour/
Currently, I’m submerged in Nikki Dekker’s diepdiepblauw (deepdeepblue, also Dutch). No notes, yet, as I’m only half way through.