Photo: Bill Lott
After a long swim in San Francisco Bay, my whole body is exhausted in the most amazing way after training. If you remember swimming as a child, it's just that – when you get out of the water and you'll be happy and hungry and take a nap. (Related: Cool new water-workouts that have nothing to do with swimming)
When I grew up, I was always the first to get into the pool or the sea, but as an adult, running had become my cardio. I've often heard people describe the experience of running as described in the Zone, but whenever I ran, I spent most of my training thinking, "When's that over?"
One year ago it was an unusually warm day, a friend who is a triathlete who asked me to bathe in the bay. So I went down and got a thermal cap, earplugs and glasses and waded in. I remember that I made 30 strokes, then stopped to catch my breath, and then 30, until I came to the edge of Aquatic Park. I was a bit worried about sea lions, and I was swept into the sea and my fingers went numb. But it was exciting. I was addicted immediately. (See also: This woman has just set an American record for completing a 1
I never tire of seeing the view of the Golden Gate Bridge from the water. And the current is constantly changing – on some days it's easy to swim, but on others you have to fight to the shore. (See also: Training Without a Pool That You Can Do On Dry Land)
I swim almost every weekend, even in winter, when the water reaches the low 50s and I have to wear a wetsuit. I track my swim on my Fitbit and watch how I improve. When I cut the cold water bit by bit, I finally understand what runners mean. Swimming clears me up. It helps me to concentrate. It clears my stress. And when I get out, I'll tremble and run through the fog back to the swimming club, and it's just this amazing physical and mental intoxication.
My Swim Must-Haves
- A few hours before plunging, I like to make a veggie omelette, which stays with me throughout the workout. When time is running out, handfuls of almonds or a clif bar ($ 30 for an 18-pack, amazon.com) are enough.
- I moisturize my skin with coconut oil after swimming in the sauna. (Try Kopari Organic Coconut Melt, $ 28, sephora.com.) The pure coconut oil is solid at room temperature and can be heated between hands to apply.)
- I have Super Goop Everyday Sunscreen ($ 19
- By wearing my Fitbit Versa ($ 200, amazon.com) I can see my trends in the Fitbit App, how much time I spend in the water and how many calories I burn. It helps me to keep track of my progress because I'm not doing it right now.