I've been thinking about the heroic buoyancy of Ruggiero: you can see it in this picture (you may need to scroll down), the way he slides over the surface of the water rather than moving through the sea with his head poking out as actual swimmers do. It put in my mind Shakespeare's description of Ferninand in the Tempest:
I saw him beate the surges vnder him,
And ride vpon their backes; he trod the water
Whose enmity he flung aside: and brested
The surge most swolne that met him: his bold head
'Boue the contentious waues he kept, and oared
Himselfe with his good armes in lusty stroke
To th' shore.
There's something in this over-water-swimming; I just haven't worked it out yet.
At the same time, it's made me realise that I, myself, am the product of a culture that prioritised the merit of swimming as prophylactic against drowning, over other possible qualities: let us say, athleticism, aestheticism, or the sheer somatic pleasure of the act.