My Open Water Story: Part Deux

Screen Shot 2018-05-26 at 8.38.11 AMSo, I was swimming again. And turning 40! I wanted to celebrate the unlikely success of both major life events, so I plotted a summer of races in all kinds of places: Across the Lake Swim in Kelowna, Sandpoint’s Long Bridge Swim, the Rattlesnake Island Swim, and the Lake Chelan Swim. There was another surprise swim, but it was a surprise for me and I’m saving it as a surprise for you. I am a sucker for clean water (who isn’t?), so I set up a fundraising campaign through Charity:Water and set a goal of $1000.

First was the swim leg of the Christina Lake Triathlon, with my trusty team of pals. This event is held every year in late June, and as a “sprint”, it requires an 800 m swim, 20 km bike, and 5 km run. All walks of life from Hardcore Strava Dawgs to People Who Drink Slurpees turn up to this event, which, depending how hardcore you are, includes campfires, beers, and a giant baked potato (or 2 if you’re crafty). I don’t really count this as a SWIM swim, but it definitely served as the kickoff to my other events.

My next swim was Kelowna’s Across the Lake Swim, Canada’s oldest open water event founded in 1949. It’s a 2.1 km crossing of Okanagan Lake, and finishes up at Lakeside Park. When you finish, you get oranges, cookies, and chocolate milk. This is important to me. It truly is the best swim to try if you’re new to the game – a very supportive atmosphere, tons of fun, and good swag. You get to ride a yellow school bus in your bathing suit. Even the check-in and safety meeting the night before is fun. In fact, I must mention that I haven’t bought a towel since I started open water swimming. If you ever need one, let me know.

There was an unexpected and unusual current – a Seiche wave-  in the lake during my first ATLS in 2014, which saw many swimmers pulled in the wrong direction. 200 people had to be pulled out after 2 hours in the water. Being my first real event, I had no idea and happily plugged along for 59 minutes (in subsequent swims, I’ve taken 35). I did think that it was taking an awfully long time to see the beach, but I was so pumped with adrenaline I enjoyed every minute. In fact, I bawled in my goggles at the starting area (with sheer nervous energy and joy), screamed with glee underwater for the next 1000 metres, and found my legs during the last 500 metres. Video from the shore reveals a round, torpedo-shaped vessel with straight arms motoring to the finish. It was actually me.

My first real event. First swim in my new wetsuit (more on those to come). First pee in my new wetsuit. First run out of the water after being horizontal for 59 minutes. First time I’d done something really good with my body since having my daughter 15 years ago.

I. Was. Hooked.

More on the other 4 swims later. They were also cool and momentous and deserve their own posts.

I like to get wild on Friday nights, so tonight’s recovery swim was a nice primer for a night of Netflix. And that’s not a euphemism for anything. Sorry about that.

I swam a 100/200/300/400/500/400/300/200/100 pyramid, 300 m kick, 5x 100 IM, and a 200 cool down. Then I went in the hot tub and chatted with John, the 90 year old man who comes to the Trail pool and launches amazing dives from the 5 metre board. It really is something to see. He grew up in rural Southern Alberta and learned to swim in irrigation ditches. That, my friends, is hardcore.

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