08/06/2014 05:47 pm ET Updated Oct 06, 2014

Magic or Madness: Open Water Swimming

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You might think there is a magic or a madness to swimming in San Francisco Bay... I mostly think of it as a gift. It is a gift I don't always understand, but it never fails to provide me with a a rush of adventure on the way in, so much peace while I'm out there, and a bigger way to look at the world every day when I walk away.

Was I always a swimmer? Oh so very no. I grew up by the ocean, in Capitola, and spent lots of time in the water, but this whole being-a-swimmer thing is very new. I have chosen to be an open water swimmer. I get to be an open water swimmer. In between the choosing and the being, I took lessons, hemmed and hawed, joined the Dolphin Club, tried on only a fraction of the variety of goggles available (turns out having a big head complicates matters), bought a couple swimsuits, bought memberships at the Y, read about swimming, bought a thermal cap and some earplugs, listened to people talk about swimming, watched people swim and more. But I must say the only thing that has made me a swimmer is going in the water and swimming.

We have more evidence now than ever about the benefits of loving and being in water. Wallace Nichols and his Blue Mind juggernaut cross the nation as I type, bringing that evidence and his book to cities everywhere.His greatest success may be in building communities of practice, communities of belief of geographically-distant water-loving people. My hopes for his success are huge, I bought the book, I 'll share the podcasts, I will back his play in any way. I want you to read it too and to believe it and to exercise your capacity for benefiting from water in any and all ways, but I must say the only thing that made me a swimmer is going in the water and swimming.

I am learning so much. The wonders of Aquatic Cove begin to reveal themselves to me. I know it will change over the months ahead as I swim more, as I grow stronger,as the water gets colder and as the days get shorter. There are critters galore, none that I have touched but some whose scent has warned me off... I am most fascinated by the light, and have begun experimenting with swims at different times of day. Today, my recommendation would be the early morning hours, going in at the hour when the sky is light enough to show outlines of the structures around us and then swimming through the light gradually filling the day. (Yes, I do stop and look around me all the time... that too may change.)

In your commitment to thrive, you will make some new choices. I hope you find as much joy in those choices you make, in the rituals you practice, as I have. And remember, the only thing that has made me a swimmer is going in the water and swimming. It's there for you...

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