Right Back in the Water
As with many things I do, the first outing is my smack in the face that I have to hit this hard! I knew I had to get right back in before fear set into me. My friend Kathey lives on the lake and she extends an open invitation to me every summer to come swim. I’ve tried once or twice in the past (rather unsuccessfully) to practice from her house, but I am determined that this year will be different.
On July 5th, we left Xander at my in-law’s pool (his most favorite place to be in July) and headed down to Kathey’s. Our plan was to have Scott and Elizabeth kayak for me, and then Elizabeth and I would kayak for Scott. Scott typically swims once or twice before the CLT and isn’t terribly worried about it. It is something he isn’t amazing at or terrible and he just gets it done and moves forward with the other two parts. Today, however, he would try his wetsuit for the first time AND swim in a cold lake (normally he swims the week before the event in a much warmer lake).
This time I go FIRST
We agreed that I would go first. This would take worry time away from me. I quickly got my wetsuit on, complete with the booties and headed unhappily into the lake. The rocks were slippery and you couldn’t see anything in the water. It was very smooth though; this was a saving grace.
I decided to set the tempo trainer much slower this time. One of the people in my canoe that first evening suggested that part of my problem was that I was swimming at an unsustainable pace. She told me to slow down so that I wouldn’t be out of breath. The pace I tried last week is perfectly reasonable for me in a pool when I can stop as I turn around every 25 yards. I realized quickly that it was completely unrealistic for a lake swim. Today I set at 1.35.
A few minutes into the swim and my goggles had water in them. After adjusting them, my swim alternated between bouts of lying on my back hyperventilating and flipping over to swim. The booties were keeping my feet aloft and my kick was sloppy and splashy. I felt like I had no form as my panic consumed me. With Scott and Elizabeth as my escorts, I had no concerns about looking foolish or taking their time. This turned out to be good, and I ultimately got into a groove. I found my swim stride and started to make forward progress. I almost made it to the .25 mile turnaround point (going for .5 miles instead of 1.2 seemed more realistic) and then asked them if it was ok if I turned around. The way back was slightly better and soon we were back at the dock. I struggled to take my wetsuit off, but eventually found success with it.
It took me 24 minutes and change, but I swam almost .4 miles in the open water. I was pleasantly surprised that I doubled my time from the first outing.
Scott hopped in the water and wasn’t much calmer than I was. He swam quickly for a minute or so and then stopped and gasped and then resumed his fast cadence only to stop and gasp more. He struggled with his wetsuit and the booties just like I did. He did made it the full distance, but it wasn’t easy for him. I was so happy to see him finish the distance. He thanked me for kicking his butt to get him in the water. He said, “If it weren’t for you taking this so seriously I would probably just wing it.” And later he said,
you know when you were swimming and not panicking you had a very patient lead arm.
He has read every blog entry and listened to my chatter after each class, so he knows all about patient lead arms!! I suddenly felt a rush of gratitude for my year learning from Shane. This will come together – someday – and it already is in some ways. While I am not exactly looking forward to my next day in the lake, I’m not as terrified either!! I learned another thing – no booties next time. I’m going to enter from the dock so I don’t have to worry about zebra mussels cutting my feet, and hopefully my feet will kick properly without the booties.