I can swim off my lawn. How flippin’ cool is that? The backyard of our family home is on the banks of Upper Rideau Lake. It’s the first time I’ve been home during summer as a triathlete so it was the first time I wasn’t looking off the back porch at the beautiful view just to admire the scenery. Now my backyard offered a whole new training playground.
The water is warm this time of year and no wetsuit is needed. It’s just bikini, safety buoy, goggles and go. Okay, go after my mum gets in first and scares the fish away. Lucky for me, my mum is the real water baby of the family. She accompanies me in the canoe offering some protection, a technique correction here and there and much needed navigational corrections that keep me away from the swamp (that’s seems to act like magnet!) and let’s me relax knowing the boats are far away.
We always follow the same route out towards First Island and after a few swims, I’ve started to know the lake. First, it’s getting through the shallows where the tops of the weeds tickle my front. Then my mum guides me past the boat channel buoys and from there it’s smooth sailing until I start to smell the duck-y scent of the swamp a few hundred meters over towards the shore. We head straight from for another kilometre until the water gets noticeably colder and darker. The water stays colder all the way to First Island but, as it becomes shallower, the weeds get closer and thicker and thats my cue to turn back. Sometimes we head straight home or, if my wandering left arm has anything to do with it, via the swamp.
As the person who ignited my love of water as a child, it seems fitting to take to the lake with her. Sometimes there are boats in the distance but most of the time it’s quiet and it’s just the two of us. When it’s really still, I wonder if anyone can hear us laughing on land when I pop my head up above water to blurt out whatever aquatic nightmare I’m living whether it’s rogue seaweed in the face or a fish that has ventured too close. Other times we laugh about the weird things I see like the orange golf ball I spotted or the huge tree laying on the bottom of the lake out in the middle of nowhere. Likewise, she points out the cooing loons, the natural landmarks on the sides of the lake and, most importantly, weed patches.
Since most of my open water experience is in the crazy, unpredictable and stressful racing environment, enjoying the lake with my mum has had the side effect of growing my comfort in open water and the lake in my backyard has started to feel like home.