Yes, I know summer is still officially a few weeks away but the humidity is rising and that sets the stage for swimming. The other day when I was heading out of town with the air conditioner on and the temperature soaring , I gazed toward a local fishing spot and noticed activity along the stream bank.
A bunch of kids were swimming in a deep, washed out section of the stream. A few younger boys leaped from the bank toward the middle where the water closed over their heads before they paddled to the surface, laughing and spraying water every which way. Several others clad in shorts and T-shirts awaited their turn.
Now that’s swimming as I remember it. Is there anything better than jumping into to a cool body of crystal clear mountain water on a hot summer day?
The cold water may be shocking at first, but swimming in a natural lake or river is so much more satisfying than diving into a chlorinated pool. Those places where kids stand in line to march uninspired into those so-called civilized, concrete swimming pools are not for me.
Real kids who swing from ropes on low-hanging branches, feet dangling, grinning ear to ear, then drop several feet to the water below would say no to cement pools. I remember that it seemed like we were as close to heaven as one could get.
When that thrill wasn’t enough, we would build a ramp on the bank above a deep hole, pedal our bike as fast as it would go, and rocket high into the air before eventually dropping to the water below.
Call us adrenaline junkies if you want, but it sure beats hearing the tweet of the lifeguard’s whistle when attempting some sneaky maneuver. Those blood curdling screams of a young man hurtling at warp speed on his bike attempting an Evel Knievel-type jump wouldn’t be tolerated in public.
The creek water is super cold. You close your eyes, hold your breath right before you take the plunge as you ready for that refreshing, but tingly cold sensation that will overtake you seconds later. It’s just something that’s not possible in a chlorinated, warm water, public pool.
Call me a naturalist, but the nasty aroma of chlorine just can’t compete with the refreshing scent of of my old stomping grounds, the Alleghany River. Sometimes we would slowly wade in and let our body get accustomed to the chilly water or while other times we would cannon ball in all at once to cool down on many a warm afternoon.
What is it about these age-old swimming holes that draws people of all ages? Swimming holes are where we would shrug off our responsibilities and play like a enthusiastic child. It’s where we came of age, making crazy sweet memories that bubble up in our thoughts and make us smile years later. If you’ve never given it a try, do it now and you’ll understand what lures us back time after time.