I think that cellist Zoë Keating is an open water swimmer, although she doesn’t seem to realize it. Many of her songs capture the energy and the sense of purpose and the comraderie of long swims, and also the loneliness of the broad expanses of deep water. Here are three of her songs, from the 2005 album “1 cello x 16: natoma”:
Fern (…sorry for occasional advertisement…)
Jake Shimabukuro captures elements of open water swimming with his ukulele on a song called Heartbeat/Dragon. I can see a gibbous moon low over Catalina Island, mountain silhouettes near dawn on the east side of the Lake Tahoe basin, luminescent jellyfish suspended beneath me as I glide among them near Anacapa Island. And for some highly distilled beauty, give a listen to his interpreting of George Harrison’s While My Guitar Gently Weeps.
How could I undertake a marathon swim in Sweden without recalling that Swedish band from the 70’s, ABBA (Agnetha, Björn, Benny, Anni-Frid)? The beatific smiles, the shimmering outfits, the profoundly moving lyrics. Be purified and exalted, ridiculously so, with these selections:
I saw Cat Stevens perform when I was 17, and his music always reached out to me. In the last years, as my marathon swimming has been on the uptick, a couple of his songs have disambiguated themselves from the many that are loitering in my psyche. Swimming in the vast waters, in the right circumstances, can be transcendent, and with good fortune you can momentarily feel everything emptying Into White.
Also, as the distant shores begin to take shape, Longer Boats stirs.
As I was reading up on Walpurgis Night, I found a song I listened to in high school, by Black Sabbath. I knew the song as War Pigs, but learned that is was originally called Walpurgis. Here it is, with its original lyrics that featured witches rather than War Pigs’ generals.
The swim is only 26 days out now, and I’ve been putting in a lot of meters in the pool and the ocean. A few days ago I did a 10.2 mile workout on a Friday, and then did the same workout the next day, thus swimming the distance of the lake (20.3 miles) in two workouts. Workouts like those are great confidence builders, and they indicate, much like the song by the Flight of the Conchords, that it’s Business Time.