We're just on the kind edge of Summer. Swimming is always on my mind.

I started swimming competitively in elementary school.  In high school while most other kids were drinking beer and getting high and driving around thinking about getting into trouble I was hitting the pool, along with 35 or 40 other driven, insane teens at 5:30 am, five mornings a week.  Every week.  Including holidays. We'd get in two hours before school started and then head back to the pool after the last bell rang for another hour and a half. On  weekends we didn't have "official" practice but we'd head to the pool in our own little groups and leisurely knock out four or five thousand more yards. I remember having bad swimming withdrawal one day and my parents telling me, "Tough. The pool is closed on Christmas day."

When I got to college I was a walk on to the team.  We did just what we did in high school.  We got up early and swam.  And then we cracked the books and studied.  So is it any wonder that now, 36 years later, I try to start every day with a swim?

I belong to the Western Hills Athletic Club Masters Team.  Our pool is 1.2 miles from my house.  We have practices at 7 am, 8:30 am and noon on Tues-Fri. and 8:30 am til 10:00 am on Saturdays and Sundays.  I've learned to cope with the pool being closed on Mondays by heading down to the famous Lady Bird Johnson Hike and Bike trail that encircles the Colorado River in the middle of Austin and running four or five miles instead.

When we swim there are often two or three world record holders in the pool, at our workouts.  Some days we have several Olympic gold medalists in the mix.  Lanes five and six (the fast lanes) are sometimes clogged with some All American swimmers who have just recently graduated from the University of Texas at Austin.  They go really fast. Austin is a big competitive swimming magnet.

On a good morning I'll go 3,000 or even 3,200 yards.  I try to catch the 8:30 am workout because I hate waking up too early. I've done enough of that.  Lately though, I've been getting Ben up for cross country and driving him to practice so I'm hitting more of the early workouts.

Unlike photography there's not a lot of gear to obsess over.  The pool is maintained by professional staff.  The workouts are planned and supervised by experienced coaches.  We each have our favorite pair of goggles (under $20) and maybe a back-up pair.  We use pull buoys and paddles for pulling sets but those are also cheap, last forever and never seem to get obsolete.

We have a set of training fins for sprint kick sets and those do wear out over time.  I generally plan on getting a new set about once a year ($35).  We've each probably got two or three practice swim suits in our gear bags, in various states of decomposition, but we're careful not to let them dissolve on us.

We have a mix of swimmers.  Some come to us to train for triathlons and some come to us after they've crippled themselves by running too many marathons back to back.  But most are high school and college athletes who've never given up, never slowed down and never lost the taste for the endorphins and adrenaline.

The one thing we all share, whether we joke around or are totally serious, is the discipline to get in and do the work. Rain or shine (but not during lightning storms..)  And the discipline that we've developed in the pool translates into nearly everything else we do.

In truth, I've never defined myself as a photographer.  When I think of who I am the first thing that comes to mind is = swimmer.

So what does this particular blog have to do with photography? Not much. Except to point out the need to have different interests.  I swim because I love the feeling of being in shape.  And I love the camaraderie of other swimmers. It's not like hanging with other photographers and talking about gear.  In the water you're fast or you're not.  It's obvious to everyone in the pool.  

I'm heading out to finish up a photographic job this afternoon.  I'd much rather be swimming in the WHAC pool or over at Barton Springs.  I just didn't have anything to say about photography today.  Imagine that.  

Summer is here.  I think I'll buy a waterproof camera and attach it to a kick board.  That should be fun....

The Temple of Aqueous Joy.

Boundaries are good.  Especially between lanes.

All images taken with the lowly Panasonic G3 camera and the even lowlier 14-45mm lens.


  1. I love my lowly Panasonic G3, I love my Pany 14-45, I love my Pany 20mm 1.7 I love my Pany 45-200 but most of all I love my Olympus 45mm f1.8. I guess I will take these loves outside take some pictures. Thanks for your excellent blog. Ernest Theisen

    1. My kid Ben has my G3 right now, along with the 14-45mm. He's doing a video project for school. I went downtown today to look at paintings by Andrew Long and a photographic exhibit of Eeyore's Birthday Party by John Langmore. Both were great. I took along a GH2 and the 25mm Pan/Leica. The camera is set to black and white. it's great fun.

  2. I've discovered that I'm not supposed to be swimming - at least until the tube that's in my ear comes out.... it's been in there a year. That was the solution to a chronic inverted ear problem from flying a lot...

    I miss swimming.

  3. Kirk, the more I read you the more you appear like the perfect human being to me, our respective spouses should start fearing, lol !
    The only thing I love more than a gifted, portrait oriented, smart, kind and humorous photographer, is the same guy with a swimmer's set of shoulders, arms and abs. Ok, tongue in cheek, but just so. As much as I am an "intellectual", I'm an avid health and fitness convert myself, even if I never had much of the competitive edge (started way too late for that). But I do get your point about the *discilpline* (keyword to your post) and the dedication, and that certainly translate into our everyday lives. Personaly I swim almost as well as an iron skillet (but not quite). I can ride a horse though. And shoot a proper photograph once in a while. Life is good.

  4. All I can say is: yep. I'll be heading out tomorrow to be in the water at 7 AM for 2km. Still working on getting rid of the flab of 2 decades...okay, almost 3 decades of inactivity.

    The only thing I add is a waterproof MP3 player to reduce the monotony of swimming laps. Attaches to the back of swimming goggles, has silicon earpieces with flanges to ensure no water comes in, and simply works dependably...makes a huge difference to my motivation to be able to catch up on audio books I've been meaning to read.

    Oh, and I swam this winter in -16° C weather. Pool was heated to around 25°C, and you certainly kept up a tempo to keep the body heat up. :-)

    1. Go John! Mix up the strokes to keep it fun.


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