39. Swimming Along

My sentimental choice for Best Beach in the World is Spiaggia di Serapo in Gaeta, Italy, my father’s hometown. Characteristically, it is divided up into private beach clubs with perfectly even rows and rows of matching umbrellas and chairs. Uncharacteristically, the sand is white and fine, not rocky, and the swimming is just perfect.My father was a competitive swimmer as a youth. He would don his skimpy bathing suit, “alla Tarzan,” as he would say, and swim from one end of the beach to the other, several miles in open water. Even in his 60s, he had a powerful backstroke. But he and the Gaeta team lost in the national championships in Bologna, because none of them knew how to do a flip turn in a pool, losing valuable seconds. I am told that he had swimming certificates signed by Mussolini that were lost when he came to America in 1939.I am also a swimmer, albeit a very slow and non-competitive one. But I do always set myself a goal of swimming 50 miles during the summer season when our town pool is open. Imagine my delight this summer when I discovered our Gaeta Hotel Mirasole had a beautiful full-size lap pool, and I could get a few more laps under my belt to meet my goal. I did a very slow half mile – nothing really- but when I got out, the other hotel guests sitting around the pool applauded. As with the odd looks I get when running, I guess they were stunned to see an old lady doing something athletic.

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