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Stranded on the Coldest Day of the Year | A Cold Day for a Swim

Stranded on the Coldest Day of the Year | A Cold Day for a Swim
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At 32, Phil was a year older than Roger and felt protective of him. He wasn’t ready to give in to despair. “No,” Phil said. “We’ve got to swim.”Roger was already shaking his head. He had never learned to move very fast in water or very far. He looked at the shore. As the tide rose, covering the shore, safety was moving farther away every minute. He turned and looked out to sea. The little boat was barely visible in the vapor produced by the collision of the cold water and the much colder air.

In a few minutes it would be out of sight. Staring out to sea, he said again and again, “We’re dead.”

“Forget the boat, Roger. It’s gone.”

“I have to see where it goes.”

“Forget it,” Phil repeated. “We’ve got to get to shore.”

A few hundred yards downshore, Phil could see two tiny figures bent over, clamming. Phil and Roger shouted and waved frantically. But the wind blew their cries out to sea like gulls. The distant men stayed bent over, hacking at the sand with their clam rakes, eventually working their way out of sight.

“We’ve got to swim,” Phil said.

“No,” Roger pleaded.

“I’m going.”

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