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Why I Love Swimming in the Ocean 

     In February 2019 my life changed after a fall on the ice. I broke my wrist, got a compression fracture in my spine but worst of all one of my lowest vertebra slipped forward leaving me vulnerable to severing my spinal cord. After recuperating for several months and rehabilitating for several more I started to dream of avoiding February 2020 by going south.

     These dreams always involved relaxing on a beach and swimming in the ocean. However, our best friends were encouraging us to go to a town in the mountains of Mexico that they had loved and so we booked that.


     My soul still craved the ocean. Then an airline sale came up for an all inclusive in Jamaica which was right on the beach, close to the airport and also labelled “accessible” and so we booked it.

     From the first moments we walked into the ocean, after we made our way down from the flat of the beach onto the soft sand of the shelf and its steep drop-off, I felt at home.

     As I began the swim in my “new” more vulnerable body I laughed to feel the usual buoyancy. Just then I felt the forbidden arching of my back that put my vertebra in jeopardy of slippage. I pulled my legs beneath my body as though I was standing up in the water, kicked a little, and sighed a deep breath of relief. I said to my husband; “Look, I’m swimming like a seahorse!” Of course, Charles looked puzzled because he couldn’t see what I meant but a quick explanation ensued and we shared a smile of pleasure.

     The high salinity of the Caribbean Sea provides two things I love. Firstly, it makes me feel as light as air, which is no small treat at my age! Secondly, the salt gives beautiful healing to our winter-dry skin.

     The challenge of coming onto shore up the steep shelf helped to keep us sharp as we held hands and timed it with the lapping of the water to the shore.

     Ever since my first vacation South as a child I have enjoyed the wildness of the ocean waters. So much is unpredictable that a high state of alertness and present-mindedness are vital to not get injured by its power. But from now on the memories of the excitement and thrill of body surfing will have to remain in the past.

     I am so very happy that I can revel in the warmth and swirl of the ocean again. The warmth, waves, and the buoyancy make me feel held by a living being with a will of its own. The ocean never gives up on us no matter how badly we treat it. Let us treat it with respect and enjoy the goodness it offers.

Submitted by: Julia Laidlaw

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