Swimming with the Ducks

You may have heard of Clarissa Pinkola Estes’ famous book, Women who Run With the Wolves? Well, I have photographic evidence that I am, instead, a woman who swims with the ducks.

Swimming with Ducks

Back in April, inspired by my son’s slightly insane bike ride, I set a goal – to swim an open water distance swim. The swim I had in mind, the punishing 3.5 mi Puget Sound crossing, is not being held this year, but there are several lake swims scattered around the Puget Sound this summer.

I set my sights on the first one scheduled as a ‘maybe’. I completed it today – the Green Lake open water swim, a mile across the lake and back. My goals for the event were simple – to finish the race, and to not be last. I accomplished both, plus, I was very pleasantly surprised by my time. (Until, of course, I compared it with my 15-minutes faster high school mile time… LOL)

My wonderful mother was my companion, supporter and towel holder for the event – thank you, mom! While mom is not a distance swimmer, she is swimming a few events in August in the Senior Olympic Nationals, held at Stanford, so it was great having another swimmer cheer for me.

One woman she was chatting with while I swam asked, “If this is your daughter’s first open water event, why did she choose the mile instead of the easier half-mile?”

Sheesh. ;) Some people. Why do people climb the TALLEST mountain in north America, or in the world, rather than one that’s half that high? If I could accomplish it – and I routinely swim more than that in training – of course I wanted to swim the longer event.

Shoot, I’d like to try the Puget Sound crossing. Catalina Island. Long Island. Maybe someday the English Channel! (although probably not) These aren’t because I love the activity so much – it’s because they’re the big mountains on the horizon worth climbing.

So, back to today’s swim. In some ways it was harder than I anticipated, and in some ways easier.

The Start
Please note that I am not in this picture, but just to the right, out of frame. This is on purpose. :)

The cold water, at about 68° was more of an impact than I expected. I chose not to get in and warm up, ‘warm’ being a bit of a misnomer. My initial plunge started me hyperventilating a bit and I had a hard time evening my breathing out and establishing a rhythm for about the first 200 yards.

Then I had a tough time staying on track. I know the drill, swim X strokes head down then 1 stroke head up to sight on a point across the lake, and I did 5:1, but I still tended to wander a bit, worse toward the end when I was more tired. The general lack of visibility in the murky water was a bit distracting, I couldn’t see other swimmers until I was nearly on top of them.

I got foot cramps a couple of time, which I never do in pool swimming, bit swam through those easily by just not kicking for a couple of minutes.

The distance itself was only a little tiring – and my shoulders are a bit achey tonight – but I expected that because this distance was unhelped by turns & pushing off the wall every 25 yards, like I do in the pool.

Lake Swim
This is our finishing group. The swim went all the way across to the building at the other end, around a buoy, and back.

All in all, I’m very glad I did it. It was a low key event, 120 swimmers in the mile event, and folks were positive and supportive. I’ll do it again – maybe Lake Washington later this summer and perhaps the swim portion of a team triathlon in Olympia in September – both depending how my travel schedule works out this fall.

14 Responses to “Swimming with the Ducks”

  1. Random Michelle Says:


    Of course the title has me thinking…

    She-Who-Swims-with-Ducks could be your new code name.

    I’m also thinking along the lines of, “So, youse guys think you could pulla one over on me? Now you’ll’a be swimming with da ducks.

  2. Random Michelle Says:

    (runs in)

    QUICK! We need to pitch this tent!

    (sets up croquet wickets)

  3. Vince Says:

    Hurray Jeri!

    I’d say more, but Michelle already has all the best lines. :-)

  4. Random Michelle Says:

    (runs in)

    (places iguana in tent)

    (runs off)

  5. Jeri Says:

    (For those that are lost, Michelle is playing Calvinball. Which, for purposes of this post, must follow WATER RULES!)

    *Swims up to Michelle, steals her flag, dives and wedges it on the bottom under a rock.*

  6. Janiece Says:

    Jeri, I am SO PROUD OF YOU!

    Congratulations on accomplishing your goal!

  7. Gene Says:

    Congrats Jeri!!!

    I am so proud of you!! You can swim and I will continue to walk marathons. The biggest body of water I do is a hot tub!

  8. Beast Mom Says:

    This is GREAT! Thanks for sharing what happened. I was hoping we’d all get an update and pics. :) Keep on swimming! If you swim the Channel, I want to go on the Europe trip. :)


  9. Barb Says:

    Go Jeri, go Jeri, go Jeri!

  10. Mom Says:

    You were great! You did good, I would happily WATCH and cheer again and take even more pictures and hold more towels.

  11. Ilya Says:

    Way to go, Jeri! I’m adding my cheers to every one of your future mountain conquests.

  12. Gretchen Skovron Says:

    yeah fellow mountain climber ;) !
    i too did the mile on sunday! it was awesome. great post

  13. Jeri Says:

    Gretchen, welcome! Glad you got to do the swim while you were in Seattle. :)

    Thanks, everyone, for the support – I can’t tell you how much it means to me to have such a wonderful cheering gallery.

  14. MWT Says:

    Hooray swimming! :)