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For the love of summer swimming

July 31, 2011
The Mining Journal

Summer doesn't really seem like summer without at least a couple hot days. Days where you seem to sweat just sitting still. Afternoons where the air outside smells hot. Trying to fall asleep at night with a box fan pointed directly at the bed.

I'm not saying I'd want to have an entire summer of temerpatures in the 90s, but once in awhile it's nice, just for some variety.

Those few days we had recently of near-record heat were, however, enough to convince me to take a few days off from running and take part in my favorite summer activity - swimming.

I don't remember not knowing how to swim.

My parents took me to one of those water babies classes at the local pool, and I'm not sure if that cemented my love of splashing around in the water, but it very well could have.

Summer has always been about swimming, coming home from the community pool with eyes burning from the chlorine or skin somewhat sore from the spectacular belly flop that was the result of an attempted flip off the diving board.

Even though my swimming career might have started out in a pool, I am now a confirmed lover of swimming in just about everything else - rivers, oceans and, of course, lakes.

The warm temperatures recently gave me an excuse to bike my way over to the Negaunee side of Teal Lake, expanding my repertoire of local swimming spots.

Working at a summer camp for several years has left me with what probably amounts to several days worth of swimming time in Lake Michigamme, but this summer marked my first time jumping into the lake between Ishpeming and Negaunee.

Often when I start waxing poetic about swimming in lakes, people will give me a strange look and tell me how they only swim in pools. Maybe it's the sometimes mucky bottom, maybe it's the fish, maybe it's the cold water.

For me, swimming in a pool is kind of like running on a treadmill. It's OK, if there aren't any other options, but it feels limited and there's not much to look at.

Since I've never really learned any of the actual swimming strokes, my goal for the summer is to get more comfortable with at least the freestyle stroke. The heat found me swimming up and down the shore of Teal Lake, dodging kids and people on those inflatable rafts, hoping I looked like I knew what I was doing and not inhaling half the lake in my attempts to breathe correctly during the stroke, which was closer to what was actually happening.

My favorite place to swim, however, remains Lake Superior, with my favorite part of the summer coming up - when the water temperature rises enough to allow prolonged swimming. I first jumped into the big lake this year in the beginning of June, ran in screaming, dunked under and ran back out screaming. It's much nicer to be able to soak for a while.

Not everyone gets to live next to a giant lake of clean, fresh water. I realize that it's a pretty unique experience to be able to open your eyes underwater and see for several yards in any direction. It's amazing to feel clean after you get out of the water.

There's nothing like it, certainly no pool. A swim in Lake Superior leaves me relaxed and refreshed, sometimes slightly shivery, depending on the time of year.

Editor's note:?Mining Journal Ishpeming Bureau reporter Johanna Boyle can be reached at 906-486-4401. Her email address is



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