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Ah the sweet, sweet return to open'er water. If you've been following these weekly updates for Reflections for RIPPLE, or seen our videos, you'll know we've spent the past few months jumping off a harbor dock to immerse ourselves in the frigid tranquility of Lake Michigan. Far from ideal, the harbor swimming allowed us to cannonball into ice-free water: We can thank trusty under-dock bubblers for this! 

Alas, spring’s late arrival welcomed us to a SE-facing beach devoid of ice. Located near the Adler Planetarium, Gardner and I embarked on this exciting 1st of season-like run, leaving his South Loop apartment and getting in a few head-wind driven miles before our plunge. Looping our run back to the South, we followed the break wall rounding the planetarium, and in a summer-like instant found ourselves confronted with an ice-less beach.  

Despite it being the 17th week of winter swimming (with warm weather nowhere in sight), the shock and general uneasiness of each week's swim is still present, this week more than ever. You better be at 10 tenths!

The differences between dock cannonballs and sprinting into beachfront water are day-and-night different. Both involve strip downs and sprints, though the beach swims demand real forward momentum; simply wading into the water won't cut it. I find both types gratifying, though beaches much more preferred.

Backs to the wind, face to the sun
Layers saturated of sweat beckon for air
Filmy and thin, your sweat a protective and final barrier to the elements
Quickly evaporating in a moment’s notice
No time to wait then

Your entire run and lead-up challenged by a single moment
A moment of mental inertia
Go and don't look back
Shock therapy meets all ten toes
Wading through the shallows in search of deeper, plunge’able depth
Legs ache and breathing heavied  
Focus your breath, one last stand
And dive. Dive deep and hard
Your reward awaits

...resorting to a less structured prose to describe this swim is a testament to my inability to fully describe the sensations of this weekly ritual. Frankly, it's comforting knowing that in 17 weeks and countless efforts to describe and answer peoples' "whys" and "whats", this weekly winter baptism remains an indescribable melting of the senses. 

What can be concluded from both my own and other fellow swimmers vantage point is that the swims elicits not a hurried or concerned 'get dressed before your freeze' feeling, but rather an overjoyed and accomplished sense of living at a full-bodied 10 tenths.

To the point of RIPPLE Africa, the sensations felt on these weekly runs though challenging and uncomfortable at times, is reflected upon in a positive and empowering light. Perhaps the best correlation here is not the physical dynamics of Lake Michigan and Malawi, but rather the effect of a glass half full mentality. 

Malawi's poverty stricken hardships are worlds away and painful to see first-hand. It makes you want to challenge and question efforts on a governmental level, for the sake of change at the most basic human level. Oh how there seems to be disconnect. 

The reality of it all is harsh but the memories, like our swim, elect a real sense of joy and humility. It's humanity and relationships at a core level that recount emotions of laughter, smiles and hope for a better future. We're all in this together. 10 tenths half full.

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03/19/2016 4:19pm

I am 100% at your back for this road safety forum you are having. It's a great way of instilling to the people the value of safety when on the road and thus, preventing any accidents from happening. In our country, the rate of minor road accidents seems to rise so this forum would be helpful especially if attended by people mainly using the road for transportation.

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10/03/2016 10:23am

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10/03/2016 10:25am

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