A long day in the brine
by, April 19th, 2009 at 08:07 AM (1251 Views)
The swimmers gathered at the start around 6:00 to connect with their pilots and load the goodies for the day. Patty and I found our captain (Mike Murray) and filled the coolers with water, perpetuem, endurolites, hammer gels, bananas, ginger snaps, lance peanut butter crackers, bag balm, zinc oxide, and the largest bottle of aspirin i could find that wouldn't incur additional baggage fees from jet blue. Of all these provisions, only the ginger snaps worked to remove the burning salt sensation from my mouth.
I led off for the Coney Island Whitefish and fell into a comfortable pace swimming four abreast with my friend Gilles Chalandon on my left and Ramses Rodriguez and Boris Fernandez to his left. Gilles and I have swum a lot together and the time always passes quickly when you have company, so we held that formation until I broke off to take my first feeding at 30 mins. I was able to leave my escort and re join Ramses and Boris a bit longer, but by the second feeding, the boats were spreading out and it was time to swim alone. By this time the wind was coming from the east and the seas were 3 -4 feet...... left breathing only for the last half hour of my 90 minute leg. Patty relieved me for 60 minutes....during which the boat was getting swamped repeatedly. I prepared my mix for my next round, knocked back a gel, a banana, and about a dozen ginger snaps. Captain Mike bailed while driving without missing a beat. My next dip (120 mins) was technically the hardest. Unrelenting chop and impossible to get into any kind of groove the timing of my stroke was dictated by the waves and I had to roll almost 180 degrees to get a "sure" breath. It was during this leg that I heard a clicking noise that seemed only a few feet from me. I stopped to look around but couldn't see anything... keep swimming. Over on the boat, Patty was snapping lots of pics and gave me the sine wave hand motion.... dolphins? According to Capt Mike and Patty, they were all around (maybe I could catch a ride?) but i never saw them.
Patty jumps in for her second round, and I hear on the radio that two of the leaders have dropped out.... now I'm a little nervous. I have only been sick once while swimming, and i know how it can suck all the energy out of you in no time... I make a mental note to make sure not to take in any sea water, keep my mouth closed, and breathe patiently.
It looks like the bridge is about a half mile away, and i am expecting to cross under well before my first 30 minute scheduled feeding. Nope. An hour and ten minutes goes by but at least the water is calmer now and finally i feel like we are in the home stretch (6 +/- miles to go to Wisky Joe's).
One more bridge, two jumping eagle rays, and we can almost smell the burgers from WJ's.
Patty yields the finish to yours truly and cracks open a Negro Modelo on the boat.... I'd like to say it looked good, but it would be another hour before I could consider a beer of my own. The crowd of swimmers and diners all looked so relaxed as I stumbled up to the dining deck... still a few more out there. Hell of a days work.
The drive back to the hotel seems sooooo long... hard to believe we swam all this way.