Last Thursday-night swim at Moreau Lake State Park: don’t go back to sleep

Last night marked the final Thursday-night swim at Moreau Lake State Park of the summer.

I first started attending these swims, sponsored by the Saratoga Triathlon Club, the week we moved here in early July. They have quickly become a weekly staple for me, and have become one of my most favorite parts of living here. Every week, I drive the 20 minutes north to the leafy, green peace of Moreau Lake State Park, line up on the shoreline at 6 p.m. and spend the next hour swimming three lengths of the roughly 900-yard course, peaceful in my own little watery universe.


Last night, the lead group—those of us who plan to swim three or more loops always wade in first—had shrunk down to just three people, compared to a dozen or more leading up to IronMan Lake Placid. I found myself instantly at peace in the water, and totally alone—a rarity in any open-water swim setting.

All summer, I’ve been trying to spend more time in the present moment through meditation and mindfulness. As I glided through the water last night, watching the sun set over the hills to the west with every breath, I felt totally, completely present, hyperaware of the cool, calm water and the beauty and stillness around me. The songs I usually sing to myself while I swim (“Three Little Birds” by Bob Marley and “Disparate Youth” by Santigold are my current favorites) muted themselves, and a single line in a Rumi poem popped into my mind: Don’t go back to sleep.

I rounded the first buoy on my first, then second lap, my mind quiet aside from that one line: Don’t go back to sleep. The sun sank behind the hills, creating an alpenglow effect at the top of the green-blue hills. Don’t go back to sleep. The glassy lake took on that silver-blue tone it does at dusk; I soared through it, feeling that I wasn’t in it, but was instead a part of it. Don’t go back to sleep.

I glanced at my watch as I finished my third lap: 6:40 p.m. Could it be that I had time for a fourth? I rounded the buoy again and sped up a bit, hoping I could circle the lake and reach the shore again by 7. I got out at 6:59 p.m., breathless and exhilarated.

I wasn’t the only one to feel something magical and mystical in the night air. One guy finished after me, and when I told him I could have stayed in another hour (I could have!), he nodded emphatically and said, “If you don’t appreciate how amazing this is, you probably need to reevaluate your life.” I laughed, agreeing.

The night finished with a pizza party at the lakeside pavilion. I brought a bottle of chilled Thirsty Owl vidal blanc to share (we drank it out of our water bottles); a swimmer-friend brought canary melons and cherry tomatoes from New Minglewood Farm, which she owns and operates with her husband. I didn’t want to leave at the end of the night. And after an experience like that, when I was lucky enough to feel totally, completely aware and awake, I don’t want to go back to sleep.

The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you.
Don’t go back to sleep.

You must ask for what you really want.
Don’t go back to sleep.

People are going back and forth across the doorsill
where the two worlds touch.

The door is round and open.
Don’t go back to sleep.


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6 responses to “Last Thursday-night swim at Moreau Lake State Park: don’t go back to sleep

  1. Those moments are why I swim. I wish they happened more often, but that lovely weightless, carefree moment makes life all better, even if just briefly. I haven’t had that kind of a moment in a while (maybe because I haven’t been swimming? ) so thank you for the reminder.

  2. “We must learn to awake and keep ourselves awake, not by mechanical aids, but by the infinite expectation of the dawn which does not forsake us in our soundest sleep.”
    Henry David Thoreau

  3. What a lovely post, Amy. Thanks for sharing the moment.

  4. Those moments of perfect awareness and peace come for me when I listen to the voice that says, “Choose this trail over that one” or “Get up before dawn and take the canoe out on the lake.” or “Look upstream now—something magical is coming.”

    “When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy.” — Rumi

  5. I just love this.

    I felt similarly in the moment in my race on Saturday. I know right? How to feel so in tune in a race? I don’t question it, but I loved every moment of my swim…

  6. Pingback: Race report: Moreau Lake Open Water Swim 3K | Amy Reinink

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