Amen Corner

I’ve been going all Ryan Lochte at the neighborhood pool. Giant chains. Monster tires. Ice grill. I even tried to trademark “Pah-shhh!

In Lochte fashion, I can also swim four 25 meter laps. In a row. Without stopping. Well, maybe one stop. But, very short. And a nap. With only one snack. And I might walk the last 25 meters, water aerobics style. With floatable hand weights (2.5 kgs). In goggles. And a scuba mask. Two tanks. Only one flipper, though. Otherwise it’s exactly how Ryan does it. Except slower. And, less swimming. More swim trunk. But a good bit less swimming. But, I’m like the 5th fastest at the McCarter pool in my age demo. Just saying. A lot of the lifeguards think I could have been pretty good if I had learned to swim as a kid. So I’m pretty decent.

103 miles. Do you know how many 25 meter laps of your neighborhood pool that is? 1 Trillion. 1 Trillion laps. That’s what Diana Nyad is doing. Right now. While I’m song blogging in an Ed Hardy Snuggie, she is swimming from Cuba to FLORIDA. What?? Not canoeing. Or jet skiing. Or wake boarding behind a Disney cruise liner. Or hydra-foiling. Or even hydroplaning. Swimming. Like one-arm-in-front-of-the-other, legs-kicking-up-and-down swimming. Not to be confused with “watching swimming” or “reading swimming books” or “not swimming from Cuba to Florida” swimming. Swimming.

I’ve been infatuated with Diana for what feels like about 20 years now, although I don’t think it can be more than about 2. She is a long-distance swimmer (has there ever been a more wild understatement?). She set all sorts of long distance records in the seventies for similar caliber swims to what she is now attempting and, in fact, tried to swim from Cuba to Florida in 1978 as a 28 year old. Strong winds apparently took her too far off course to continue.

She is now 62.

I’d like to end the post there. That number says it all.

103 & 62. The only details that matter.

Oh. And the sharks. And the cramps. And lightening bolts. And Poseidon, God of the Sea. And the 3 day sleep deprivation. And the 30 foot swells. And probably like a flock of snapping turtles. And hypothermia. And 25 mph squalls. (Whatever those are.) And the Box Jellyfish.

For all my life, it was the Portuguese Man of War. But, apparently, those are like firework sparklers compared to the Box. The divers intrusted with protecting and rescuing Diana were put out of commission by one, during her failed attempt last year. (Oh did I forget to tell you this is her third attempt post-60? If I can raise a spoon thrice to my mouth after 60 I’ll consider it an upset.) She, however, suffered multiple stings AND KEPT SWIMMING THROUGH THE NIGHT.

I’ve taken a half day from work for too much static cling.

Augusta National Golf Club the home of arguably golf’s fines tournament, The Masters, invited for the first time in its history, two women to become members: Condoleezza Rice and Darla Moore. Among many more notable accolades, Moore is from my home state of South Carolina and the namesake of the nationally recognized School of Business at the University of South Carolina. I’m just saying. We’re amazing. (Let me double check. Nope. No Clemson gals were invited.)

Anyway, it’s a pretty big deal. The exclusion of women, in the 21st Century, from such a high profile club was this really strange juxtaposition. Even after some pretty serious heat for the policy, starting in the early 2000s, the club seemed unlikely to cave. And, they were facing relatively modest consequences. But, it’s not any kind of secret that women remain on the outside to a certain extent in business and politics, when they can’t get in the clubhouse or out on the course.

So you’d like to celebrate the reversal. But, it feels just sort of like a “duh.” Not super courageous or progressive or even polite to get around to inviting women in 2012. Mostly just a late pass.

Augusta National is known for many eccentricities, none more famous than a trio of holes beginning with the second shot on 11 through the tee at 13, called “Amen Corner” that require spectacular heroics to survive. Sort of like Diana’s swim. And, almost certainly like the advancement of women through these many centuries. Patient. Perilous. Precocious.

When I got up this morning I intended to write about a really special swimmer, exhibiting the highest sort of personal courage. By the end of the day, the story was even more profound for the symmetry in the two events. Diana’s outrageous refusal to quit. And the unrelenting patience of women to be accepted in the Club. The wallet and the purse. Surf and turf.


Performed by ipoetlaureate. Music produced by djclutch.

Today’s song blog here:

Surf and Turf