The Lake George Adventure Swim took place over the Fourth of July weekend this past year. It was a four day excursion across the length of Lake George in segments. To read about the Mermaid I found during swim 1 you can click here. To read about the battle with Medusa during swim 2 click here. To read about Poseidon’s gift click here.
“’Come here,’ they sang, ‘renowned Ulysses, honour to the Achaean name, and listen to our two voices. No one ever sailed past us without staying…”
– Homer –
It was a rough ride back to our campsite through the wind and wake. We began calculating for the next swim. It was supposed to be the longest swim of the entire venture, roughly 8 miles from our campsite to Hulett’s Landing. We realized that we would need to jump back in the water as soon as we got to the campsite and we probably wouldn’t have enough time to make it all the way to Hulett’s and keep our dinner engagement for the evening. We had slept too late.
How come nobody ever oversleeps in Greek mythology?
We battled the wind up the lake and compromised amongst ourselves. Doing the longer swim in the morning would probably be better – less boats, less wind, much better swim conditions. We agreed that we would swim as far as time allowed today, designating a time stop point and then head back to the campsite to be ready for dinner.
It was a brief stop at the campsite and we were ready to launch again.
Crossing Red Rock Bay – our little camping cove – was the most treacherous part of this afternoon swim. Boats would race right up to the 5 mph buoys across the entrance of the bay before suddenly cutting their engines to coast to their campsites… or somebody else’s campsite as the case might be.
Dave in his kayak and I in my swimsuit, we crossed the bay right along the line of the 5 mph buoys. An onslaught of water traffic suddenly descended upon us, but they paused at the sight of Poseidon’s flag waving proudly in the breeze above the kayak. I told myself that there was no need to feel myself an inconvenience; they needed to go slow, anyway.
As we were swimming north up the lake into the wild landscape with nothing but trees and rocks and water for our second afternoon in a row, I marveled at myself. I still felt so good – despite the conditions and the freshwater swimming and the sleeping on the boat… I felt really, really good.
…When did I get to be so strong? I asked myself over and over and over again.
I suspect it was a long, hard, determined process of choices. Beautiful choices. A beautiful life. A beautiful me.
Stroke after stroke, pulling me through the cool waters – navigating me through the Narrows, surrounded by three-dimensional, living art from the water I swam in to the valleys I passed through, sheltered by my friends…
I could hear them, then. I could hear their song. My heart was so heavy, I thought it might pull me toward the bottom of the Lake.
I have heard them many, many times while swimming.
Why don’t you stay? Stay here. Let go. Stay.
“Why don’t you move, Bethany?” The faces of so many well-meaning people paraded through my minds’ eye. “Just move where there already is a pool and swim programs. Better jobs. More men. …More men with better jobs.”
I laughed – I could even hear the way that particular person had said that particular thing.
Just keep swimming, Bethany. Just stay here. Do this.
I could do this. This… swimming thing. I could be a marathon swimmer. I could get a Triple Crown. Why didn’t I want to swim the Ocean’s Seven? I certainly could. I could be like that! I could do amazing things! I could do more. Go farther. Keep on swimming. It was so much fun! The one thing I could do so well. It was so wonderful.
I could stay right here…
And never build a pool in Rutland.
And never make other people great.
And live a quiet, normal life in bliss with the Sirens… and never, ever get home…
It sounded so good because it was easier. But swimming isn’t the most important thing I could do. I had realized this a couple years ago when I struggled with the amount of time it would take me to train to swim the English Channel. The commitment, the energy, the ‘no guarantee’ of any marathon swim… how could I reconcile that? There had to be better uses of time… or I had to make it about something better. I determined long ago that my life was too precious to waste solely on myself. I will live my life intentionally, with as little waste as possible. And my intent in swimming is not to swim the English Channel or the Ocean’s Seven or anything like that – it’s to empower my community to grow and become and do more and have more opportunities… and to especially have more swimmers!
There is so much more to me than love for the water…
How much of a difference can my life make?
Just as I had never pictured myself swimming so far across anything, I wondered where else I might find myself in the next few years. What lies on the other side of the English Channel?
The sound of the Sirens became a whisper as I found myself becoming completely convinced:
I can do anything.
The changing of the guard silenced my thoughts. Dave climbed out of the kayak and aboard the North Forty for a break. I hoped and willed and used the Force to message Deb to jump in the water with me. Somehow she got the message! I was so excited to have a swim buddy!
We swam along, side by side and the Sirens were quiet with Deb there. She must have some super powers – Siren silencing superpowers. We paused to look at a heron who seemed to be disgruntled about something… sitting on his rock the way he was all puffed up and shaking his head at the boats as they whizzed by.
It wasn’t very long until we came to our stopping time, conveniently at the end of the last few islands. We marked the place mentally and clambered aboard the North Forty to head back to the campsite and to get ready for dinner.
Once aboard the North Forty on our way zipping back to the campsite, two almost sad things happened. Our dinner engagement with the people I referred to in my mind as the Island People, fell through. This was discouraging because… who doesn’t want to dine with Island People?!
The other troublesome thing – we had been battling the wind god since the beginning of our trip. I don’t know his name, I just know that he was playing tough. It didn’t matter because we had Poseidon for us… but the wind god struck a violent blow when he ripped Poseidon’s flag clean off the kayak and away from us. We all felt pretty guilty about that and didn’t want to tell Poseidon that we lost his flag.
We headed back to our campsite to get dinner together, and spent a wonderful late afternoon enjoying each other’s company, building a fire, cooking, and arranging things for tomorrow.
We were in the midst of enjoying dinner when our next good thing arrived from the water gods. Although Poseidon did not appear in person this time, he sent us a fender that floated to our campsite from out of nowhere in the middle of the lake. Dave, employing his most awesome life saving skills, swam out and rescued it for us. It was truly a treasure to have in our possession!
That night I was in my bunk before the sun was fully gone. I had been too hot the night before and this night, I covered myself with an afghan that had been hand knit or crocheted or something. I could hear the mosquitoes buzzing around my ears, but was too tired to reach literally the few feet away from me and grab my mosquito repellent. That was a bad life choice. If only the wind god favored me and blew the bugs away… but alas. I am not his most favorite person. That’s okay, he’s not my most favorite god.