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Go jump in the lake: Kids’ fun can be healthy for adults

In the heat of a Middle Georgia summer, there’s no greater oasis than the lake.

Many a lazy weekend, I floated around on an inner tube near a friend’s dock on Lake Sinclair.

I’d sit in the middle with my feet dangling in the water and my arms free to paddle.

My first surprise encounter with fish gently nibbling at my flesh was enough to convince me to keep my legs as close to the surface as possible as I dozed to the drone of ski boats.

I didn’t discover the joys of languishing in the lake until I moved to Milledgeville as a teen. The summers of my youth had previously been spent in our backyard pool with an occasional trip to the beaches of New York’s Long Island.

My mother thought I was part fish as I could swim before I was walking. The life jacket was not for me. Mom said I quickly rejected it to become the toddler queen of the doggie paddle.

As I grew, I spent more time underwater in a flowing freestyle that challenged my lung capacity to cross the length of the pool without coming up for air.

Splashing around for hours each day turned my hands into a state of prune and my eyes a brilliant shade of bloodshot.

But I never had an official swim lesson until I befriended a swim coach a dozen years ago who taught me how to breathe and skim across the water in rhythm.

I bought goggles and spent several weeks doing drills at the gym.

After my goggles started leaking my enthusiasm waned.

I’m not sure if it was last year’s Olympic Games or my renewed commitment to finally get fit, but I invested in new goggles and a swim cap then jumped right into a routine.

I taught myself how to flip turn and I can swim a mile with ease at The Wellness Center.

Now I’m training to go the distance June 20 in the Celebration Swim at Lake Juliette.

The event benefits Hospice of Central Georgia and features a non-competitive swim for people like me who are no threat to Michael Phelps.

I’m a little nervous as this marks my first swim in open water, but I’m happy to help the folks who kept my head above water in my mother’s last days.

At my current pace it will take me nearly two hours to swim two miles.

If the fish are biting I’ll be much faster.