Old Mack’s Tales

March 8, 2008

The Channel Swimmer

Filed under: Uncategorized — Ron McKinney aka "OldMack" @ 2:56 pm
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There was this sand spit, see.  Then there was a channel and beyond it an island where big kids went to make out.  I wasn’t interested in watching older kids make out; I wanted to prove to myself that I had as much guts as those big kids who swam that channel to get to the island to make out.  What I had to do was swim across that channel.

All I knew about swimming was from watching Johnny Weissmuller swim in those Tarzan movies.  I stayed in the Tower Theater all one Saturday, watching the same movie three times, paying close attention to Tarzan when he swam, going like a bat out of hell to rescue Boy or Jane.

When it came time to try swimming across that channel, I backed away from the water, maybe a hundred yards on that sand spit, which was hard and flat as a street, not sandy like the beach; my feet hardly left any prints on it.  And then I ran full blast towards the water.  I must have been going sixty when I got to the water’s edge and flung myself forward, arms outstretched my skinny body flat as a board.  I hit the water belly first with a smacking sound and shot forward like a speeding bullet.  I didn’t even slow down a bit.  My arms were churning, just like Tarzans and my feet were kicking like mad.  I was going too fast to worry about how deep that channel was, or what might be down there in it; I was still flailing my arms when my hands dug into the sand on the island.  I popped out onto the dry sand.

I was so happy I just ran all around that island.  Big kids, who were making out in the sand dunes, naked as plucked chickens, got mad and cussed me out.  I didn’t care.  I just ran like the wind as I came back to the edge of the channel.  I didn’t even have to think for a second about it.  I just dove in and swam back to that sand spit.  God!  It felt fantastic.  I felt bigger than Tarzan and twice as strong.

Monday, when I went back to school, nobody messed with me.  They could see that I’d changed.  I wasn’t the new kid who was younger and smaller.  I was a force to be reckoned with.  The same guys who had tormented me for weeks now wanted to be my best friend.


I told my new friend Roy about the island and that channel.  I even offered to teach Roy how to swim, but his mom wouldn’t let him swim in the bay.  So we talked our moms into getting us memberships at the YMCA, where I taught him to swim in the tank.  Roy and I swam every day after school, and when we were good enough we both signed up for the Red Cross life saving course. Right after Christmas I had to move again, so I never got to see Roy swim across that channel, but I’ll bet he did.

The End.


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