Learning to Swim with the Fishes

on 7 Mile Beach on Grand Cayman

by Anne Evans

As I write this, I’m wondering should I be proud to point out this “first” in my life – or embarrassed to admit that it should have been my “first” 15 months ago?

My parents taught me to swim at a young age. We belonged to a “Country Club” (The University Club) near our home in Los Altos Hills, California which boasted a massive pool + a toddler’s pool. I remember my Dad teaching me to swim (probably 1959 at the age of 3). When I was able to swim the width of the pool on my own, I was rewarded with a pair of flippers. When I was able to swim the length of the pool on my own, I was rewarded with a face mask. There was a separate area of the pool for diving, and even though I was afraid of heights, I did find the courage to jump (albeit, feet first) off the high dive on multiple occasions. I enjoyed a lot of time with my family and my little girlfriends at that pool.

The Pacific Ocean beaches off Santa Cruz and Half Moon Bay in Northern California were about an hour drive from our home. Mom started taking me to Santa Cruz and its neighboring beaches and to the Santa Cruz boardwalk  in the summertime when I was perhaps 5 years old. Even during the summer, the water was cold (15 to 21°C  or 59-70°F) and the waves were significant. At that age, I didn’t care about the water temperature – and it was more about learning to body surf than learning to swim in the ocean.

My teenage years were more about just hanging out on these Northern California beaches with my girlfriends looking for cool guys . . .

Fast forward . . . I have been a runner for over 50 years now, and I’ve learned over the decades that if I do some swimming as well, I avoid running injuries. Swimming has served me well – however, it has been lap pool swimming, not in an ocean.

I now indulge in swimming 1-3 times daily in the lap pool provided at our current condo home.

It is certainly the longest pool I have ever had at my disposal. Measuring 25m x 5m, 3-4 adults can swim laps simultaneously. However, in the mornings (or off-season most of the day), it’s just me gliding back and forth. The best part is that I don’t have to clean or maintain it!

7 Mile Beach on Grand Cayman is so different from the California beaches of my childhood. There are virtually no waves. The waters are at their coolest in February (26 to 27°C  or 79 to 81°F) and warmest in August  (29 to 30°C  or 84 to 86°F) 7 Mile Beach Water Temperature (Sea) and Wetsuit Guide (Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands) (surf-forecast.com). Well, I’m a temperature wimp these days and am happiest if the water is over 31°C (88°F), so I’ve kept to my lap pool swimming with frequent runs out to 7 Mile Beach to enjoy walking up and down in its waters ankle deep.

The other day a lovely neighbor of mine – the mother of a bright and energetic 2-year-old toddler and  an accomplished ocean swimmer – told me she had resumed her Friday morning swims at 7 Mile Beach. I was impressed. As I began to think about this, I remembered that my feet sensed that the waters seemed to be getting warmer. I took my temperature probe and discovered that — WOW! – the shore waters of The Caribbean Sea were at 32°C (89+°F)! The next afternoon was a beautifully sunny Thursday so off I went for my first ocean swim in the peaceful off-season waters – and it was astounding.

I wore goggles, and the water was a brilliantly clear emerald green. There were fish beneath me (my only non-human companions in the lap pool have been lost crabs = a good reason to wear goggles; you don’t want to step on one). I could see the ribbons in the sand from the currents. I was gently tossed around by the water – and it was a work out! No rest as one would receive at the end of a pool when turning around to resume another lap. I swam between the Westin and the Ritz out and back twice during an exquisite 30 minutes.


I think I heard once “You only regret what you don’t do”. I suppose my regret is that I waited 15 months to do this – now to be part of my “Cayman Routine”. Next water adventure: learning to snorkel.

If ai cannot solve a problem by baking a cookie, I cannot deal with it

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