bonnie tsui

To swim in the ocean is to immerse myself in wildness, to feel the way the water rises and falls like breath.

We swam in that heaving body of aquamarine, and what I remember most is the profound feeling that the ocean water had weight — that the powerful, muscular waves that lifted me could reverse their force at any time, pounding me into mush on the sand or sucking me far out to the horizon. It was humbling, and not a little frightening.

But we were mesmerized by the pulse of the ocean, alive to the sound of the surf and the scent of the briny air. Daring to risk was part of the thrill of swimming out there.

I have come to appreciate open water (an ocean, a big lake) as a challenge, a mode of transport. There is an energy to the ocean in particular, an element of danger that requires a giving over of self, that makes swimming in heavy water a kind of holy communion. I see swimming as a way to get to know a place with an intimacy that I otherwise wouldn’t have. To swim in the ocean is to immerse myself in wildness, to feel the way the water rises and falls like breath.

~ Bonnie Tsui, In Hawaii, a Swimmer’s Communion With the Wild Ocean (The New York Times, February 2, 2017)