There and Back Again

Whelp, now how do I combine both subjects I want to talk about into one blog? I figure discussing both of them in the first post is a good way to start!

To that end, let me start by saying that I’m studying marine biology and I enjoy swimming, being a competitive swimmer for seven years. I’ve never really had the chance to combine both, as the first is normally in the classroom and possibly in the field, and the latter takes place in a pool. This blog is the first time I’ve gotten to combine them both…with the exception of this one time.

I spent five weeks this past summer in the Sea of Cortez for a tropical marine biology course: I  snorkeled, camped on the beach, swam with sea lions, and explored the nightlife in the city. Also, I spent most mornings in a stifling hot classroom, the better part of a week alone on a sandbar counting fiddler crabs under the Mexican sun, and many hours holed in up in my hotel room completing papers.

Uca crenulata fiddler crab

Uca crenulata fiddler crab

On one of those days where I typed away on my bed, my roommate planned to snorkel out to a point where a classmate and she had carried out their independent research and look again for some missing supplies. Needing to get some exercise, I offered to join her.

Now, I wasn’t going to paddle along the shore with a snorkel, so this right here was open water swimming, something I’d never ever done before. You know those activities that you tell yourself you’re going to pick up when you’re out of school/have more money/have more time/get your lazy butt out of bed? For me, learning to swim in the ocean and eventually compete in an open-water race is one of ’em.

So, I pulled on my swimsuit, the one that’s hot pink with checkered trim, dug my cap and goggles deep out of my suitcase, and left my sandy flippers on the balcony. Now, I quickly figured out why open water swimming is terrifying:

  • You move in directions you aren’t trying to, like out to sea
  • Most of the time the water is too murky to see the bottom, so there might be some mutant, man-eating fish down there
  • Waves come out of nowhere to wash a bunch of seawater filled with who-knows-what down your throat
  • Most of the time the water is too murky to see the bottom

But you know what? It’s still one of my favorite memories from the trip. I didn’t let the fact that I might never be found if I sank overpower my confidence in my swimming skills, I swam a distance I never have before without launching off of walls, and I definitely got a kick when I turned around and found I had left my flipper-enhanced roommate in my dust (err, bubbles).

Long story short, try what you’ve been wanting to try. Do it alone; do it with others. Share what you have learned. Do it again.

The author next to a resting California sea lion pup

Me next to a resting California sea lion pup! Los Islotes, Baja California Sur

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One thought on “There and Back Again

  1. Pingback: Bahia Magdelena Pt. 1 | Windows to the Sea

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