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Of Swimming Bondage

A tale of two lakes -- part 1

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by , May 7th, 2012 at 04:02 AM (168 Views)
It was the best of swims, it was the worst of swims, it was a day of wisdom, it was a day of foolishness, it was the season of Heat, it was the season of Cold, it was the spring of hope, it was the spring of despair.*

Friday, May 4th -- Saguaro Lake
This was the best of swims. This was success. This was fun. This was me texting crazy ideas to my Dad afterwards like, "Maybe I could train someday and do something like the Channel."

I had picked up Chaos and Swimsuit Addict on Thursday (along with Mrs. Chaos) and we had spent the day quite leisurely. We hit the stores to pick up gu, heed, water bottles and the wide and intriguing variety of food-&-drink-stuffs that Janet (aka Swimsuit Addict) uses to create a 4 (or was it 7) course meal during her long swims. I tried to suck as much wisdom from the two of them as possible before attempting Friday's swim. We ate well -- an awesome carbo-loading lasagne made by my even more awesome wife -- and all tried to get to bed at a reasonable hour for the 4am wake up call.

Friday morning came too early, but I had a good mix of anticipation plus nervousness. We made it down to the meeting point a little after 5am to an impressive group of people that the SCAR (Saguaro, Canyon, Apache, Roosevelt) Swim Master, Kent Nicholas, had gathered:

  • 8 swimmers (Kent himself; Shauna & Starbucks/Gordon & Meg from Mesa Masters, Chaos/Dave, Janet, Kurt Dickson and me)
  • 4 kayakers
  • 1 guy with a boat
  • 2 teenagers to help drive cars
  • 2 other guys for boat support staff

I knew all of the swimmers, but none of the support crew. While Dave's in a league of his own when it comes to OW swims, Kent's building an impressive resume (Catalina last year, MIMS this summer) and Janet's exploits are well-known to readers of her blog. Kurt had certainly done more than the rest of us, including up to 10K and some cold-water stuff like the around the rock swim at Alcatraz. Shauna's a very accomplished distance swimmer and had done at least two 10Ks, both at the USAS National level and at Masters Nationals. While Gordon, Meg and I are all good swimmers, this was going to be, by far, our longest swim. There was an ease, though, of conversation and people seemed relaxed/nervous, all of us focused on accomplishing the swim, most of us with a healthy respect for the challenge even that would mean.

Probably the only mistake I made on this swim was in my choice of footwear. The design of the swim was from dam to dam, but, as there was no easy access point to the starting dam on the eastern side of the lake and as the closest a boat could get us was 1 mile from that point, we had to hike down to the start. This is where my speed-reading of Kent's email served me poorly as I read "wear something more than flip-flops as it will be steep and rocky" to "wear flip flops." Thankfully, Kurt and Rich (our most excellent kayaker) portaged the kayak down and I just had to manage Kurt and my mesh bags (see attached PDF with some pictures).

There aren't good online water temperature readings for these lakes (probably because no one thinks to swim them!), so we didn't know exactly what to expect. I waded in a little bit, but it didn't feel too bad. Kent got a reading of 65, though, and I was fairly OK. I know I'd conquered 64 last year and figured the lake would warm up as the day went on.

We all swam over to the buoy line in front of the dam and got our official start time as 7:32am. Kurt and I had discussed our pace and settled on a 30 minute feeding schedule with Rich, our kayaker. It took a little while for the group to spread out and a little longer for Rich, Kurt and I to get into a groove, but probably by 45 minutes of so into it, we had Rich off to one side of us so that he could both guide us and allow us to sight by breathing normally to minimize lifting our heads. It's hard to tell what kind of pace you're holding in open water, but it never felt aerobically hard. I was probably cold for the first hour or so, but not overly so. I was swimming in just a drag suit and goggles (no cap) and felt good. By the time we got more into open water (e.g., canyon walls receeded and sun up high enough), I imagine the water got to as much as 72 and was quite comfortable. I had either Heed, plain water or Espresso Love gus in my feed bag. I went through significantly less water/Heed than I thought I would ... and less than what Dave or Kent had recommended, but I felt strong and was certainly well-hydrated. I don't know how Janet captures as much of the out-of-the-water scenery as she does as all I really remember from the swim is Kurt's face, the blue kayak and Rich holding up a water bottle every 30 minutes to signal us it was feed time.

Kurt and I finished in 3:33, about 9 minutes behind Shauna and Gordon. I did my last three strokes butterfly to finish with a flourish, but, other than that, it was a pretty workmanlike effort. I was pretty happy with the day, pretty chuffed with tripling my longest distance swim ever (in the end the swim was probably more like 9 miles than the 10 Kent had estimated pre-swim) and began to have delusions of OW swimming grandeur.

Day 2 (next blog post) would shatter those.
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  1. slknight's Avatar
    Sounds like a great first day.

    But I'm a bit worried about the second. Hope everything is ok.
  2. tjrpatt's Avatar
    Sounds like something different to do. Nice Post. The suspense is killing me on part 2.
  3. hwern's Avatar
    Great job!