Where did I go? I’m not even sure! Have you seen me?
Oh, here I am, trudging out of the lake covered in weeds, mascara smeared, nipples pointing in opposite directions…and dragging my Swim Buddy behind me like the world’s saddest whoopee cushion. Did you miss me?
The last 7 months have gone by in a blur. I’ve had a lot of blogging false starts. I’ve felt like writing, and then I didn’t. I’d think about a post, and then I’d get busy, and then I’d get hangry, and we all know what happens when I get hangry.
And then a global pandemic happened (WTAF), the pools closed, and I didn’t really know what to do.
This wasn’t in the plan!
I’d been swimming in the most diligent, consistent, and committed fashion of my life. I’d been working with my Kelowna-based coach (the amazing Channel Swimmer Brent Hobbs) to improve my technique (which was apparently “of the 80’s” – go figure!) and increasing my distance weekly: 4 swims a week with one LONG ASS 10 km pool swim on the weekend. I was making regular practices with my local Masters Club, getting workouts in while traveling for work, and even competing in my second Master’s meet in Vernon, BC at the end of January. I smashed my times and really felt on the up and up and up….
I was focused on swimming a ton of events leading up to the Sri Chinmoy Lake Zurich Swim in August. I had a yoga plan (thanks KERRY!), a strength plan (thanks ANDREA!), plenty of motivation, and even my sandwich-tossing support team figured out (HI SCARLET AND THOMAS!). But when the pools closed, I was at a loss. I figured the best thing to do would be to keep my fitness up, and having a Haus-German with whom to spend much of the lockdown ensured that I got out skiing a lot. Snow is frozen water, after all.
Then all swims were cancelled. I experienced existential grief and angst. I wasn’t easy to get along with. What a year. I was always anxious, always hangry. My gills were closing.
This coincided with the busiest period I’ve ever had in my career. Working in education technology means that I have morphed into a 3 inch version of myself who lives in Zoom 12 hours a day and may or may not be wearing pants at any given moment. I can no longer see more than 2 metres ahead of me, which is ok because that’s how far apart we’re supposed to be anyway.
And then finally, it was mid-May and I decided to stop being such a big girl’s blouse and get in the fucking lake, no matter how cold.
IT WAS COLD.
(but I learned that I really, really like it!)
No wetsuit for me – as per Coach Brent. The sanctioned swims I’ve planned do not allow it, so I’ve relegated my sleek Orca rubber to the closet, where it sits in wait and may come in handy for fighting/committing crimes.
Early season training couldn’t come soon enough, and I headed out to Christina Lake as much as possible to test my cold boundaries and gradually increase my time in the water before meeting up with Coach Brent and Channel Swimmer Emilie Epp in Kelowna for the first LONG ASS cold water swim, where I swam for 2.5 hours in 13 degrees. It was exhilarating, even if my hands turned into lobster claws and I couldn’t get my car key in the lock. I couldn’t feel my own face, but that’s ok because we’re not supposed to touch faces anyway.
As it’s gradually warmed, I’ve had lots of lake time at Christina, Slocan, Okanagan, and Nancy Greene. I did a short bike tour with The German, and I bought a super cool, easily transportable, foldable Oru Kayak to encourage support paddlers to join me in the beautiful BC sunshine (and thunder and lightning and rain….June was pretty wet!).
I’ve finally been able to swim with Coach Brent this week. He took me on a sunset cruise under the Kelowna Bridge (both ways), which was reminiscent of that scene inThe Perfect Storm – and I loved it. We talked about goals – I’m still planning to swim the 18.9 km length of Christina Lake – and one REALLY BIG GOAL that I am not ready to talk about yet.
So much depends on whether the pools open this fall/winter. So much depends on getting more than one hour in a lane.
So much depends on everyone wearing a fucking mask and washing their hands and not partying on houseboats and not hugging each other.
Navigating this new normal is not easy, but doing it in the water is making a lot of difference for me. Better thinking, natural exhaustion, fresh air…
I really missed this. I’m glad to be back. Let’s go for a swim.