This is about the first time of the season you dive into the ocean and swim. It’s about that summer day that is too hot and humid, when regardless of how much you love the city, you want to go away. You want to go to the beach. You have to go to the beach. You want to sit in the sand, you want to feel the cool breeze, the salty air. This is about the first plunge of the season, when the water is still cool and refreshing. And it’s the right kind of water, seawater.
For me it is a ritual. Back home the first time you go swimming is usually around the end of May, as the Mediterranean tends to warm up faster than the Atlantic. This year I took the first plunge mid July in Crane Beach, in Ipswich. The first-time ritual stays the same regardless of location. I always wear an older bathing suit the first time I go swimming. Reasons unknown, I don’t even remember how this started. I sit in the sand for a long time, I want to feel my skin burning hot while I look at the water. I run my fingers through the sand, I dig in with my toes. It is warm. No, it is hot. I have to reach that tipping point when there is no other option, but to go in. Slowly at first. The feet go in, getting slightly numb from the 60F-degree water. But I persist, and I get used to it. I go deeper and deeper. The water comes up to my thighs. Oh, cold water. I stand there and look around. I touch the water, I feel it in my hands. Cold water it is. But I won’t leave.
A couple of minutes later the right moment comes, the perfect moment when I know it is the right time to go in. This is it. Head first I dive. It is an awkward move, because it’s been almost a year since I last did it. The body gets submerged and a million sensations drive my brain wild. The body awakens, it is alive. I feel something that is unlike anything else. Surrounded by water, I feel so free and so happy I want to scream. Stupid underwater smile won’t get off my face. I come up for a breath, I float, I swim. And for that minute there I feel happy. Happy that I live close to the sea, happy that I get to swim, and happy that this is only the start of the swimming season. B l i s s.