In preparation of swimming Stages 3&4 my coach suggested that I ‘visualize swimming the Hudson, putting in as much detail as you can’ So here’s my dreamy Stage 3 – Think Positive, Be Positive, and Positive things will happen! Come back in a week I’ll let y’all know how it goes.
Jump in. The water’s cool and a little salty, flat as glass. It’s slack tide, and I start to swim. My paddler’s right next to me, smiling. I can see in his dimples that he’s as happy to be on the river today as I am. I begin to stroke, smooth as silk. In my head, I chant, ‘bubble, bubble, breathe’. I’m in my happiest of places, swimming to a bridge, with a great team to support me. No matter how this day ends, its beginning is perfect.
The sky is light blue due to a little cloud cover. The water temp is 69, air 82. As I look into the water, its color – bottle green with a little gray and a slight drop of yellow – imprinted in my mind from other days, I’m home. I’ve always thought of the Hudson River as my home water. Even though I have not swum in it often as compared to many other waters it’s where I jumped in for my 1st official open water race 7 years ago. And for more than 20 years I lived alongside it in various apartments in NYC. Someday’s I would ride my bike along its shores on the way to the pool before work and it would inspired me to be a better swimmer. Some apartments had sliver river views that I took in along with my morning coffee. But rarely was there a day that I did not see the river even long before I took up swimming as a passion.
In the middle somewhere, I’ve been swimming for some time. I think how it’s funny that I always wear a watch and have never looked at it during a swim. I feel great; rotating and breathing – ‘reach and roll’ I silently chant. The current is swift, and I’m flowing like the kids in the fast lane of a pool. Stroking, breathing 4,2,2 – My rhythm. Like most of my swimming, it’s not textbook, but it’s me and it’s effective for what I do and where I’m at.
I know I’m close to the bridge now as I see Launch 5, the former NYPD patrol boat who supports us every year. She’s strong and sturdy, I can’t imagine anything that would phase her or her captain. Part of me wants to frolic a bit, but I know better – the tide turns hard and fast in this river. ‘bubble, bubble, breath,’ I chant, and stroke until I feel the shadow of the Newburgh Beacon Bridge over me and I roll over and back stroke to enjoy the view. Before I get out I take a moment to say thank you for my fellow swimmers, family, and friends who helped me on my journey to get here. I’m so grateful that this river supports me and returns the love I feel for it.
I always find the end of long swims bittersweet – so happy I finished and so sad it’s over. But this time’s a little different because I get to do this again tomorrow. How lucky am I?