Turkey Tracks: Swimming Through The Heat Wave

Turkey Tracks:  September 4, 2010

Swimming Through the Heat Wave

This week has been sooooooo hot!

I know we’re spoiled in Maine with regard to heat.  When heat and humidity strike, we are wimps.  We wilt, and we wilt fast. 

Our personal strategy is to don swimming suits, drive down to the river (4-5 minutes), swim until we’re cool, go home and keep our swimming suits on until we have to go back to cool off again.  Some people bring chairs and just sit in the water, forming groups of people who visit and laugh and splash water.  Others bring blankets and books and picnic lunches and spend the day.  There always seems to be room for everyone.  You can swim as far as you want upriver, which is a good workout.  Or, you can just get deep, tread water, and visit with a friend you’ve called and said “I’m soooo hot; meet me for a swim.”  I put a picture of Shirttail Point in some posts back, if you want to see our swimming hole.   

The river is glorious.  It’s clean and clear; you can see all the way to the bottom all the time.  The top few inches are warm, but not far down, the water is deliciously cool or, even, cold.   The water feels silky on your skin and leaves it soft and supple.  It does not dry you out like a chlorinated pool.  It’s living water.  I’ve thought a lot about swimming in natural water this summer.  I’m reading more and more about the dangers of all the chemicals we use.  And, how our skin is not a barrier at all, but a tremendous absorber of all these chemicals–which are not mediated by the body, but go right into our bloodstreams.  Our bathing and drinking water, for instance, is loaded with chlorine and fluorides.  Both are deadly for humans.  And, I don’t think anyone really knows how much is too much with repeated exposures.  Or, what the impact is on children who are still developing. 

I’ve just finished Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride’s GUT AND PSYCOLOGY SYNDROME–or, GAPS, which is primarily about the connections between gut health and neurological disorders.   But, it’s also about the connections between gut health and food allergies, which is, apparently, a big part of my food allergy issues.    McBride argues that swimming in chlorinated pools is dangerous on two levels:  immersion in poisoned water and the layer of gas just over the water that we breathe into our lungs when swimming.   I’ve had two bad, foolish exposures to cleaning in an enclosed environment with chlorine, and I know that I injured my lungs both times.  It took months for them to heal.  McBride also argues that we are not getting access to needed bacteria–such as is found in natural water, around pets, on farms, etc., that we need to develop strong immune systems and to populate our guts.   

I love to swim.  I love everything about being in water.  I am a Pisces, after all.  And I come from a family of swimmers.  But, I don’t think that I’m going to swim in any more chlorinated pools.  I don’t like the way they make me feel.  I can never get the chlorine off of me, so I smell it all day.  It dries out my skin and hair terribly.  And, I seem to have a constant running nose and cough when I use a chlorinated pool.  I’ve learned mucus production is a clear sign of a struggling body. 

In the little town in Georgia where my mother grew up, they swam in a pool fed by three artesian wells–so that the pool had new water every 24 hours.  And, we’ve found enzymes for our hot tub that work just fine.  Surely, with all our technological abilities, we can figure out ways to clean water without dumping poisonous chemicals into them.  Meanwhile, I’m going to enjoy swimming in season and finding other ways to exercise off season.

Hurricane Earl backwashed through here this morning, so things have cooled off a little.  I hope we get more swimming time though, before it gets too cold.