My passion for swimming has always led me to try and share the sport with others. One of the main deterrents for many people is the fact that staring at the bottom of a pool for hours on end can be boring. I beg to differ but that’s a topic for another time. Regardless I figured it was time to spice things up a bit in regards my swimming and so for that I signed up for my first open water swim.
It was a 5K open water swim that took place in west neck beach which is in Huntington, New York. It was a calm, beautiful morning perfect for a swim. I got to the beach (after getting lost) with a lot of time to spare. So I wondered around a bit, helped more a gate, and tried to take in as much of the environment as I could.
When more people started arriving a tried to gather information about the course and any scrap of advise about how to swim in open water. So I wandered around looking lost as usual until we were about ready to go. At the last minute I took half a caffeine pill, shoved a honey packet up my arm and followed the other wetsuits into the 65-68 degree water. It actually felt pretty good on my feet and wonder if I really needed to suit after all. It did make it impossible for me to sink but gave me really intense hickey makers which were very painful during the swim. Got to remember to oil myself better.
Some of the things I discovered about open water swimming verses lane swimming;
1- there are jellyfish in the water with you
2- tickling peoples feet is just something you do automatically
3- the currents push you off course so you actually swim more than what you intended
4- watch out of kayaks
5- no blue line… Can only see arms in the greenish water
6- breathing is different, especially around the turn around buoys.
7- And as always… Just keep swimming
My official time was 1:22:43 and I came first in my age group. Then again I was the only one in it, haha. I was 14 out of 19 participants in the open wetsuit division. Not too bad for my first open water 5K. It was actually more than a 5K for me cause without the assistance of the magical blue line to keep me straight I was zig zagging all over the place trying to head towards those big red balloons guiding my path.
What led me to sign up for an endurance swim? Well for starters my love for the water has always led me too it. Finding pure joy, relaxation, meditation, exhaustion, exhilaration and excitement all in the matter of an hour has led me to truly appreciate the water for what it is. A healing. Swimming out under the sun is also a double healing. I got to do something I love outside which always makes whatever you are doing doubly better. The second reason as always is to test my limits and look to improve in not only swimming but in all areas of my life. Swimming, biking, and running to me are keystone habits that transfer over into all other areas of my life. They make me want to do good for myself but more importantly for others.
So as I sit typing here with my neck barely noticeably burning a constant reminder of the event I reflecting on all the fun I had on this endeavor. I’m glad I stuck with it and just leaned into the pain during the swim. My love outweighed the pain at the moment and I hope I can remember that throughout life in other areas.
So in the words of dolly remember… “Just keep swimming.” Either that or think about ice cream.