The sun started by covering only the tips of my feet but eventually became a glare in my eyes. Once completely in the shadow of a huge oak tree, the sun had moved westward and its bright rays had then covered me from head to toe.

The afternoon was progressing comfortably with the shadows deepening, while I read a couple of newspapers and reclined poolside on Tuesday afternoon.

That point when the heat drove me to finally soak myself at my condominium pool and enjoy the first swim of the year finally came.

My mother never used to take a dip until July 4th. She said the water was too cold. Now she lives in Florida and swims year-round.

Usually I'm in by Memorial Day, but this year I simply didn't go swimming until Tuesday.

A lot can be explained about the way that a person enters a pool, lake, river or the ocean.

Leap in with no abandon and you are one who can enjoy a sudden, yet refreshing shock.

Start slowly in the shallow end with a walk down the stairs and a gradual stroll into the deep end and you might be considered a wimp. The meek hope that no one splashes them before becoming completely immersed.

That point does come, though, when every inch of the body becomes deliciously wet.

Immersion in water is another way to control gravity. It's like being at the top of a hill on a roller coaster ride. It's hard to stay at the bottom of a pool, and floating is no guarantee that you'll stay above water, either.

Kind of like being on the moon and weighing but a fraction.

At the Great Salt Lake in Utah, we floated like we were lying on a bed and were kept above the bottom, which was less than six inches away, because of a high salt content. No getting salty water in the eyes or nose. After a dip in the Great Salt Lake, a shower is necessary to take away the crust. The feeling derived is one of experiencing prehistoric times firsthand.

The beach is different. The smell of salt permeates everything. When underwater the salt cleanses and cuts a bit and reminds us of the power and of differences on a planet mostly covered with water.

I discovered first hand that the pool water on cruise ships is taken from the sea when I slid down a sliding board into a shipboard pool on my back without first pinching my nose shut. It was a mistake not likely to be made twice.

Several acquaintances have told me that they find a sandy beach creepy and uncomfortable - something to stay away from. They don't like the squishiness of sand between their toes that many of us thrive on. Sure, hot sand might burn, but there's always that nearby body of water to cool.

A couple of days following a trip down the shore, slipping into a sneaker and sharing it with a little bit of sand is a joy, and a reminder of good times. The waters of a pool are certainly calming, but for a feeling more settling than sitting in a rocking chair, a dock that moves with each wave is both mesmerizing and relaxing. Riding and rocking on a dock that moves with the water takes us back to the fetus stage of our lives with that continual reaffirmation of life - mother's heartbeat.

The unborn are immersed in liquid. Nine months of fluid existence might be what still draws us to the seashore or pool late into our lives.

But no, maybe the fetus memories are more like a sitting in a hot tub or taking a warm bath.

It's now summer and time for a cool dip. Some might race back and forth and never touch bottom while swimming laps, but instead I'll likely choose, now that I'm acclimated, to take the plunge by cannonball and then frolic aimlessly.

And I won't apologize to those who are inching their way in to deeper water and who get splashed.

Bill Rettew, Jr. may be contacted at

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