Who Needs Clean Water?

2013-05-26_beach_to_beach_swim_cinnamon_bay_st._johnHow many times do we have to remind ourselves of the difference between wants and needs?  If forced to sort through the material goods in my life, there’s no question that I’d put clean water into my bucket of ‘needs’.  But that doesn’t mean I can’t splash some of it over into my ‘want’ bucket too.  Sometimes (often times) we want water for the sheer joy of it, especially on the long, clear days that mark the start of summer.

My mother made sure that we knew how to swim from a young age, and in elementary school she signed me up for the local swim team. I suppose it was partly to get me out of the house, to give her some peace, and to work my way out of my chubby-sized blue jeans, but I’m sure that she also wanted me to be comfortable in the water. All of those things happened, but gasping through early morning drills, always the slowest kid, didn’t exactly instill in me a love for swimming as an exercise form.

In January I told my friend Craig Barshinger, who lives on St. John, USVI that my husband and I would be coming down for a vacation in late May. He exuberantly replied “You’ll be here for the Beach-to-Beach Power Swim!” I fought it for a bit, but it was pointless. Craig has participated in this race each of its ten years, and generally places (or even wins) the 3.5 mile “assisted” (wearing flippers) event. If he could swim 3.5 miles, surely I could participate in the one-mile, unassisted (no flippers or snorkel) race. And so, I bought a pair of goggles and once a week, while the snow was swirling and the skies were gray, I’d crunch through the indoor laps. Yuck. But what kept me going was the opportunity to celebrate St. John’s waters with 299 other swimmers.2013-05-26.2_lynn_and_jake_after_beach_to_beach_swim_2

And, of course, it was all worth it. I swam the mile, though I don’t think that ‘race’ would be an appropriate term for my participation. I hesitated when everyone dove into the water at the start – the churning mass of arms and legs was not for me. Once I got going, I found that my pace was about that of Jake, a chocolate Labrador who seemed to be very concerned about my well-being. Jake and I swam most of the race together, though he graciously allowed me to pull ahead of him at the end.

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