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  • Writer's pictureLeann Shamash

Swimming (And Why I Love It!)

I remember when I first met Debbie, she was a nurse at Camp Yavneh. At various times of the day, in between her working hours, Debbie engaged in multiple workouts. She was either biking (very long bike rides that were finished by 7:30 AM) or swimming the lake. Perhaps there were other workouts, but I remember these two daily activities so clearly.

I can picture Debbie calmly walking from the Marp (the infirmary) with her towel down to the waterfront.

During the pandemic, I would see Debbie taking very long walks through Newton. I suspect that we were both listening to our own books in our ears as we greeted each other on the street.

I have witnessed the passion that Debbie has for exercise and swimming. I asked her to write this essay because there is something about swimming that is different from other workouts. There does seem to be something mystical about being in the water. Debbie conveys that here, but it is the story of her childhood and how her swimming as a child has informed her lifelong swimming practice that is what I will take from this short story.


am deeply grateful that Debbie took the time to share this story!



I imagine, that swimming to me, is like Yoga to a lot of other people. It brings me peace, relaxation, and the feeling that I can face anything the day might bring.

We often joke in the locker room, i.e. the swimming cultists, that by 7am, when we have finished our swim, that the best part of the day is over! But seriously, I have been swimming since childhood, but only recently (relatively) came to realize that you don’t lose weight from swimming. I’m not sure why this is, but it’s true. So don’t start swimming for that purpose! Even so, there is no feeling like the feeling you get, when you have finished your swim.

You can breathe easier, you can think more clearly, and you have an unmistakable feeling of


Swimming started out as something that my parents thought was a necessary skill. As it says in the Talmud, loosely paraphrased, one of the obligations of parents to their children, is to teach them to swim. My siblings and I grew up in New Bedford, not far from Acushnet Beach, and then in Dartmouth, not far from Round Hill Beach. Almost every day during the summer, when we were not at camp, we would drive to the beach, with one beach chair. That chair was for the towels. We would get in the water, swim from one end to the other, and then towel off and leave. The beach was not for sitting, it was for swimming. People definitely think this is weird, but I never did.

Now we have a house in Hull, Nantasket Beach. Sadly, the water is way too cold for me to do a decent swim. But living just 2 blocks away from the water, brings me a feeling of comfort, even if I’m not going in the water.

The best reason to have swimming as part of an exercise routine, is that it is easy on the joints, and often the only option available if injured.

“Swimming is simply moving meditation” Cesar Nikko Caharian

Debbie Forman is a nurse practitioner and passionate about exercise,

In her leisure time, she enjoys all manner of outdoor activities, particularly biking, swimming, and hiking.

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