Swim with the (Imaginary) Gators

The Mike from 6 months ago would not recognize Mike today. Where swimming was worse than torture back in January, now it’s just another effective workout routine. I actually look forward to swimming rather than avoid it like a pair of cement shoes. In fact, I’ve been proactively seeking out more ways that I can swim. My most recent foray involves some open water time in one of Austin’s relatively hidden gems. And fish. There are fish.

Last week I purchased a GroupOn-type deal that gets me 10 day-passes to Pure Austin Fitness for $20. It’s a total steal considering a single day pass costs $15. The spark that ignited my interest is that they have a natural quarry right out their back door. It’s basically a freshwater lake that the gym claimed as their own. What makes it so appealing is that it’s open for swimming to members (or to too-cheap-to-be-a-member-but-bought-a-GroupOn people).

I visited the gym on Saturday looking to test the waters so to speak. I’ve become confident enough in my swimming that I can do a 750-meter loop around the lake without trouble. The first thing that struck was how pretty the scenery was. The water is set 20 feet below the “normal” ground level and completely surrounded by vertical rock walls. In the sunlight you could see different color blues and greens in the water.

The water was a slightly-warm 83 degrees as I waded in for my first of two laps. Considering the size of the course, it was empty. There might have been 8 people swimming total. As I rounded the first corner I got into a good rhythm. That is until I freaked the bleep out when out of the corner of my eye I saw something move. It turned out to be a tiny fish who strayed a bit too far away from his school.

Unfortunately that’s all it took to get

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my imagination swimming running wild. Every little piece of tree branch or algae or small fish materialized into some sort of Mike-eating creature. I could feel my anxiety (and heart rate) rising as I swam passed some murky vegetation, convincing myself that this would turn into a Lake Placid situation. It took a bit of mental toughness to block the bad thoughts out, mainly focusing on the fact that there were other people in the water who survived.

After a quick break on land I went out for a second lap, more confident that I wouldn’t be eaten by an imaginary mutant alligator. And as it turned out, I was right. When I got out of the water (all limbs accounted for) I realized how awesome the quarry really is for swimming. Not turning around every 33 yards is brilliant! So I look forward to heading back to the quarry a lot over the summer (with 99% certainty that I won’t be eaten by a computer generated alligator).



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