After a spell of cooling rains, the temperature (and humidity) has climbed back up. Our growing season has been running a month behind, and August was unusually cool and wet so we are anticipating our “dog days” to hit in September. Looks like we’ll have plenty of good swimming weather yet! We get nearly as excited over swimming as we do ice skating.
Our favorite swimming holes have changed over time and the seasons. We have a decent little pond not far from our house. This served as an excellent “backyard pool” for us children to learn how to swim. Now that we are older, we need a pond that is deep enough to dive in, so we only use our pond for the occasional scorching hot day when we are desperate for a cooling dip. When we really want a good long swim, there are a couple of other farm ponds around outfitted with nice wooden docks and homemade diving boards. If there’s been a recent rain, we can swim in the lake overflow spillway. This is a swimming hole we siblings only swim in rarely, because it can be dangerous if you don’t know how to swim well. Not only that but the fluctuating water levels can be hazardous. I once got caught in a whirlpool down there trying to rescue one of those foam swim noodles; but we won’t go into that story right now!
While swimming is not authorized in the reservoir just down the hill from our house, there is a nice rock ledge that juts out, about fifteen to twenty feet off of the water. The water is nearly forty feet deep there, so it is a fairly safe spot for diving, so long’s a tree snag doesn’t drift in. There’s talk of legalizing swimming in the lake, and should that happen, I most definitely am going to do a flip off of that rock! There’s another rock ledge further up the lake that’s between twenty and fifty feet high, and the water is equally deep there. But there’s no way that I am jumping off of that rock! I’m not that brave or reckless, whatever the case may be! This is due to Dad’s safety-first speeches all us siblings have heard growing up. But we are calculated risk-takers. We’ll assess a situation before jumping in. I wouldn’t have gotten up the nerve to do half of the things I did growing up if I hadn’t observed my brothers successfully doing it first. And they may not have done it either if it weren’t for their sister saying “Just try it, it can’t be that hard!”
Most recently, our favorite swimming hole has been an abandoned rock quarry we got permission to swim in The great thing about the quarry is that it is deep enough that it doesn’t dry all up in the drought spells. It also has nice, clear water since it has the rock sides and bottom instead of mud like most ponds around here. There’s no diving board, but there’s a nice rock ledge to jump off with a twenty foot depth, and a floating dock. Both the boys and the girls try to claim it as “their” swimming hole. We have learned to designate swimming days so that both groups aren’t angling for the quarry at the same time.
Official “swimsuits” are not present at our swimming hole. The girls’ swimsuits aren’t a whole lot different from our everyday clothes. Depending on how much of a swimmer you are, determines how much your dress is altered. If you are a” floater” or someone who goes swimming just to get wet you can get along perfectly fine in a normal dress and head covering. If you do a lot of diving or underwater swimming, we modify the dress so it won’t billow up and fix a covering that the water won’t rip off. While it may look impossible to swim with all that cloth, it really isn’t that difficult if it is what you are used to. Most of us are self-taught swimmers, so there are definitely personalized swim styles. My swim style is similar to a frog’s, but it works great underwater. I am able to swim about fifty feet underwater, not as far as the boys, but still a decent distance.
The boys, of course, have a much rougher and more competitive time when they all go swimming. They engage in awful activities like dunking and other such rough-housing that girls would never dare to do. While the boys may play King of the Mountain on the floating dock, the girls would never dream of shoving each other off.
While the boys may have races and contests,’the girls have contests with themselves. Or perhaps it is that girls don’t admit to having competitions. Sometimes you will notice that one of the girls just swam an incredibly long distance underwater. “Wow,” I think. “I wonder if I can do that.”Instead immediately trying it, I wait several minutes before jumping off and swimming in the opposite direction. This subtle way of competing has its advantages. You don’t look foolish if you can’t come close to the other girl’s accomplishments because you don’t have any spectators. Since you aren’t swimming in the same area, you aren’t actually sure if you swam the exact same distance, a little further, or a little less than that underwater swim you’d noticed. And so, in typical female fashion, I decide that I can swim• just as far underwater as my friend, but I doubt that I swam further. To challenge my friend to a race would be seen as boasting, but if a third girl suggests it, we would probably both agree to satisfy our curiosity.
Swimming definitely defines folk’s personalities. Some girls go swimming just to cool off, and are content to float around in inner tubes. 1 go swimming to experience the rush of water past my cheeks.
I’ll try to dive to the bottom, swim under the dock, and practice my dives and flips. Since I’m not that great of a diver, I’m trying to fix that. I’m also still learning to backflip. My cousin Maralee says it requires grace, which is probably why I’m having such a hard time of it, because I am not particularly graceful. The unfortunate thing about gracefulness is that you can’t force it. So, until grace decides to show up, I’ll just have to put up with belly-flops!