I've been swimming since I can remember; first in the Pacific Ocean with my father (who is an avid swimmer and surfer) when I was just a baby in Australia, then later in the deep green lakes of the Hudson Valley where I grew up. My grandma was a long-distance swimmer and camp waterfront counselor in her youth, so my childhood was filled with both swimming lessons in the pool in the winter and summer lessons at my camp's lake, the hasn't-changed-a-bit Camp Sloane in Connecticut. And every vacation we took — with a singular, unchanging question from age 5 to age 18 — I nagged about one thing: would there be a place to swim? In my mind, it's just not a vacation without swimming. 

 

All those lessons combined with the fact that I just love being in the water means that I jump into any ocean, sea, river or pond that's around. And one thing I've learned is that everyone has their opinions about what they will and won't swim in. 

 

I'm not picky, but at the end of the day, I definitely prefer fresh water if I have a choice. Lakes, swimming holes and rivers are more relaxing to me since they are usually quiet. That hush of the wind through the trees as it ripples over the lake, or the somnolent gurgle of streams over rocks into shady waterhole is delight wrapped in a cool hug. I also love that I don't need to shower after doing laps in fresh water like I do when I go to the ocean.

 

I don't love pools, though I'm happy to have them to swim in when there's nothing else. I find the chlorine smelly and it dries out my skin, and they are relatively boring rectangles of water without much nuance or element of challenge or danger (which in my mind makes anything more fun). But plenty of people who I know love pools and refuse to swim in anything but — their reasoning being that they are uncomfortable swimming in any body of water that's not perfectly clear. 

 

The ocean is probably the most "fun" place to swim, what with riding the waves (which I can do for hours), but it's also the most dangerous and changable. All that salt means that it's easier to keep yourself afloat — which is awesome on a calm Caribbean sea while looking at the clouds, but it is a bit hard on the skin and hair. But there is something inexplicably cleansing about a good hard swim in the surf, something that makes you feel more alive and connected to the part of the earth that is 70 percent salt water. 

 

Really, every swimming venue has its own charm and great memories attached, in my mind, but what do you think? Does the safety of the pool outweigh it's lack of mystery for you? Are you too afraid of sharks to even consider the ocean? Are lakes too dark for your taste? With that in mind, here's an interesting infographic that weighs the relative dangers of pools vs. oceans: 

 

 

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Pool Vs. Ocean
Source: Reusable shopping bags

 
MNN tease photos of ocean, lake and pool: Shutterstock

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