Thursday, November 15, 2007

Swimtrek in Malta/Gozo

My first impressions of the water were the blue, the depth, and the grin so wide that it interrupted my breathing. We had jumped off the boat under sunlit cliffs and my trepidation had duly been slapped by the shock of the water. But as I started to swim, as I started to warm up, the grinning had taken over.

A dozen of us were out there in two groups - finding our way; feeling salt in our mouths; and searching for a group dynamic that would tie us together for the week. I soon found myself attached to the feet of Keith, taking advantage of his open-water experience so that I had only a very small world to worry about. It helped to calm the scary and exhilarating feeling of being a small dot in a big sea. I could dip fully into the joy of swimming without walls and I could marvel at the pitted cliffs rising above me in gold and sinking below in blue.

And as the first swim went, so had the first evening of the trip. The unknowns of 14 people who had come from different directions to the same place. The trepidations melting into enjoyment as a dynamic emerged. Past experiences and future excitements had fizzed up and down the long dinner table.

Back on the first swim, the calm seas couldn't last forever. As we turned around one false headland after another, I started to hope that the next one would reveal the bay that we were headed for. When it finally did, we had come around the island and I had my first experience of "lumpy" water. We just had to swim down to a clearly visible rock and into the bay. No problem - just like the final hill on an mtb ride. Thus began the labour. Waves pressing against me like London commuters, holding me back. My hands caught water too early or too late, and my breaths often caught water instead of air. Maybe there is something to this open water business. The cliffs were crawling past now, but they were moving. The primal bit of me thought, "Yeah!" whilst the most of me thought "Food... tea... food... tea..."

In the end there was tea and there was food. The protection of the bay gave us calm waters and the November Mediterranean sun bathed us in what must have been about the finest place on earth for that moment.

And that was just one bit of one swim and one bit of one dinner. Swimtrek was a great adventure - full of laughs and sunshine and swimming. They've made something that's nearly as good as mountain biking. And since mountain biking is the best thing in the world, ever... that's not half bad.

My photos
Eric's photos