The first time I ever heard of open water swimming was when my sister told me she had done it with her boyfriend. She said they swam from their house to the beach near our house. At the time I didn’t really pay much attention to such things because it seemed like something only a few people did, but then one day while walking around town with some friends, someone mentioned that there were these guys out on the lake doing it. They called them “swimmers.”
I remember thinking that those guys must have been crazy or maybe even idiots since nobody else wanted to do it, but then I remembered that there are always exceptions. So I decided to give it a try myself. (Although at the time I thought it would be impossible.)
So after getting all my stuff together and having a couple beers, I went over to where they were going to meet up. I parked my car right next to the edge of the lake and waited until they came back. When they finally got back, I jumped into the water and started swimming toward shore.
When I reached the other side, I saw that they were just standing there looking at me like “What happened?”
But then one of them grabbed my hand and pointed across the lake towards a small island called Catalia Island. Apparently this was where most people went if they wanted to go swimming. I still didn’t really understand why that was since it looked like you could swim right from where I had just swam.
But anyway, more people started to show up and soon it was time to go swimming. I ran and got my stuff and then jumped into the water. I swam as hard as I could but I still couldn’t reach the island.
Apparently my sister had been right, you had to swim out pretty far before you could reach it. (Which made me kind of glad that I decided to come here instead of going to the beach like everyone else.)
After swimming as hard as I could and not getting anywhere I finally stopped and treaded water. That’s when I saw him. He was a really good looking guy and he seemed to be in his late twenties or early thirties.
He was swimming towards the island as if it were nothing. He didn’t seem to be exerting himself at all. He didn’t even look like he was really swimming, it was more like he was just gliding through the water.
He soon reached the island and then started swimming back in my direction. I stayed where I was but continued treading water. He approached me from behind and when he reached me he put his arm over my shoulder and held me close to him.
It felt kind of weird but also comforting at the same time. He then turned me around and started swimming back to the island.
When we got back to the island he told me his name was Shadow and that it was his job to look after people when they came to swim across the lake. He told me that this lake was different from all the others because you couldn’t just swim across it, you had to be invited or you couldn’t get on the island.
He then told me that the island was very important because it was a resting place for spirits who had been chosen to visit the living. He said that every once in awhile someone not meant to be there would sneak on to the island but that he would always find them and send them back from where they came.
It was getting late so he said he would show me where I could sleep. We walked over to a group of trees and he showed me a spot between some bushes where nobody could see me but I would still be protected. He told me that I should stay out of sight since there were some people there who weren’t supposed to be there.
They weren’t allowed on the island since they had already lived their lives and it was time for them to move on. He said that they wouldn’t bother me if I didn’t bother them but that they would probably ask me questions and that I should just tell them that I wasn’t allowed to talk about what kind of spirit I was.
He said that he had to go wake up the people who had swam across the lake and check to see if anyone had tried to sneak across. He told me that he would be back to wake me up in the morning and then left.
I walked over to the place he showed me and lay down between the bushes. I was soon asleep.
The next morning I woke up to a few people walking around. I noticed that none of them were my sister, so I decided to sit up and say hello. They seemed happy that someone new had showed up and they all started talking to me at once so I didn’t really get to talk to any of them individually.
They all seemed to be trying to talk at once so after a while I just picked a question at random and answered it. This seemed to satisfy them and they all went back to doing whatever it was they did before I woke up.
After they all left I walked over to the spot where I first woke up. When I got there I saw something on the ground so I bent over to pick it up. It was a peach.
I looked up to the tree it must have fallen from and saw Shadow sitting in the branches. He waved at me and then jumped from the branch he was in so that he was hanging from another one about 10 feet off of the ground. He then let go so that he fell straight down and landed right in front of me.
I asked him who he was but he ignored me and instead asked me if I wanted to go for a walk with him. Not really knowing any better I agreed and we set off to explore the island.
He told me that his real name was Mark but that everyone just called him Shadow since he could make himself invisible and sneak up on anyone. He said he was able to do this ever since he was a little boy and the elders told him it was because he was destined for great things. I asked him what he meant and he said that he wasn’t sure but that he was supposed to accomplish a great deed that would change the world forever.
He said he didn’t know what it was yet and that’s why he came to the island to try to find out by talking to the elders.
We walked past the sleeping area and into a big grassy area with a bunch of trees. It was here that we found the oldest man I had ever seen. He was sitting on a rock and had a little black dog on his lap.
The dog looked brand new like it had just been given to him that day. He saw us and waved so we walked over to him.
“Hello there, my name is Tom.
What are you doing here?”
He asked in a voice that sounded much older than him.
“I’m Eric but everyone calls me Silent since I never talk.” I answered.
“That’s a nice name, it fits you.” He said while petting his dog. “
Now what did you ask me again?”
“I asked what you were doing here.”
“Oh yes, I’m waiting for my wife. She likes to take walks in the forest and I like to go along with her since she is older than me and knows better about these things.”
When will she be here?”
“She should be here soon, she is always on time.” He said looking at the sky.
We waited for about ten minutes when suddenly we heard a lady call out to Tom.
Is this your wife?”
I asked pointing to a women walking our way from far off.
“No, that’s not her, but I think I know who it is.” Tom said to himself more than to us.
We watched as a women, dressed in a blue robe approached. She had long blond hair and was very pretty.
“I’m sorry to intrude but I am lost.
Could you tell me how to get back to the capital?”
She asked in a soft voice.
Before anyone could answer two more women walked up to the group. One was carrying a baby and the other one looked really familiar.
“Mom! Dad!” She said running up to the couple.
“I’m glad I found you, I was getting worried.”
The women with the baby extended her arms and handed the bundle to the older women. Then she joined the other ladies who were standing with us.
“Now son,” The old man said to me, “watch closely.”
I watched as the women holding the baby transformed before our eyes. Her hair turned from red to gray and her skin got all wrinkly. Then she fell over and turned into a turtle!
I couldn’t believe my eyes. I pinched myself to make sure I wasn’t dreaming but it didn’t help, it just hurt.
“Now you have seen our secret and we will transform you into a tortoise to save you from the men who are looking for you.” The old man said.
Suddenly I felt myself getting lighter. I looked down and saw that my arms and legs had turned into tiny little flippers. My body got really small and my head felt funny.
I reached up to touch it and felt a hard shell. When I looked at everyone else they seemed bigger looking while I got smaller.
“No, don’t turn me into a tortoise, I like being me!” I cried out but my voice came out as a cute little squeak.
I felt myself falling and someone caught me. It was the woman who looked familiar. She cradled me in her hands and spoke softly to me.
“There, there little one. There is nothing to fear. You are safe with us.”
I looked up at her face to see that it was the same girl from the tavern!
I said in surprise.
She just smiled and nodded her head. Then I saw her mouth the word “Sleep” and I felt myself drift off.
When I woke up I was back in my own body. This made me very happy since I didn’t like being a turtle. I looked around and saw that it was still night time.
Everyone was asleep so I decided to take a walk.
I walked around the little campsite and saw that everyone was still asleep. I thought about waking Eliza up but decided to let her sleep. Instead I went back to the sleeping area and curled up in my own bedroll.
In the morning I woke up to find Eliza shaking me.
“Wake up sleepyhead, it’s time to get up.” She said with a smile.
Sources & references used in this article:
An iron man: The body and some contradictions of hegemonic masculinity by R Connell – Sociological perspective on sport: The games outside …, 1990 – books.google.com
Ontogeny of behaviour in larvae of marine demersal fishes by JM Leis – Ichthyological Research, 2010 – Springer
The diving physiology of bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus). I. Balancing the demands of exercise for energy conservation at depth by TM Williams, JE Haun, WA Friedl – Journal of Experimental …, 1999 – jeb.biologists.org