The door was always open.
There was always a laugh in the air. Or a song. Or a story. Or a comfortable silence that didn’t have to be filled.
Swimmers would come and go. Stop and chat. Sit and stay. Ask questions. Get answers. Share. Relate.
The sink was full of swimsuits, caps and goggles one moment and dishes the next. You could have breakfast, if you like. Or second breakfast and just stay where you are until lunch. After the next swim, do come back for tea.
The towels lined the fences, always in the sun to dry.
I’d never quite done that before, traveled so far from home on my own. All the way to Ireland. Meeting up with swimming friends to share room and board and car. United in our purpose – to swim as much as possible – we fell into a seamless flow of give and take, work and rest, assistance and aid. Each to their equal share, as much as their abilities allowed.
We were, for ten days, an open water swimming family.
And we called ourselves the Aquatics! Aquatic Ape, Aquatic Chicken, Aquatic Dragon, and Aquatic Bee. We made silly faces and took silly photos. We perfected the art of dancing in the car and singing into banana microphones. We packed endless amounts of good humor into every moment we could find during the course of one of the most extreme sports training events in the world.
And we swam and we swam and we swam!
We weren’t the same speed. Each of us had different visions, aspirations, intentions about the week. But we took care of each other and saw to our individual successes collectively.
Because that’s what families do. Even if they aren’t related.
And the energy and the synergy and the fun! Goodness, what fun! I do believe these memories will stay with me forever and always. I will laugh at our shenanigans during my longest, darkest, hardest swims and remember your believing in me, and, thus, remember that I believe in myself.
And if I ever find that I want to be out or done or to stop… I think I will go back there. To then. That time. Those moments. That place. Where, for a moment, water was thicker than blood.
With the Aquatics.
Where the door was always open.