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.
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 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.
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.