I just finished reading Waterlog by Roger Deakin. The book is his account of “swimming through the British Isles.” I thoroughly enjoyed it, and it has inspired me to do a swimming challenge of my own. My plan is to visit every Virginia State Park with a natural body of water for some wild swimming. I’ll probably do some running, too. My goal is to hit the six parks that are within a two hour’s drive before the end of the year:
- Bear Creek Lake State Park (Cumberland, Va)
- Holliday Lake State Park (Appomattix, Va)
- Pocahontas State Park (Chesterfield, Va)
- Twin Lakes State Park (Green Bay, Va)
- Lake Anna State Park (Spotsylvania Courthouse, Va)
- Douthat State Park (Millboro, Va)
Wild swimming isn’t new to me. I grew up swimming in ponds, lakes, rivers, bays and the ocean. After cross country meets in high school, if there was a body of water anywhere nearby, I always jumped in. Occasionally some off my teammates would join me. Ever since, swimming after a run has been one of my favorite things in the world.
I can’t wait to get started!
This was a more leisurely swim; the black water, exposed to the sun, was less cold than the river. My breaststroking sent a bow-wave wobbling the reeds along the banks, and the eels shifting in the mud. From the water, I could see Burrow Hill rising steeply to a single tree at its summit. A tiny figure was sitting on a swing under one of its branches, silhoutted against the blue.
In the afterburn of the swim, I raced to the top of the dramatic hill, where the man on the swing, who owned a pair of white goats grazing nearby, politely offered me a turn. The view from the swing is one of the finest in England, across the Levels for miles in every direction until the fields and rivers disappear in mist. Being airborne, and already high from a cold dip, it was like floating above the world as you sometimes do in dreams.
That is a man after my own heart.