Main image for First Open Water Swim Time to Read: ~3 min

The Adventure Begins ...

6 years ago, Scott and I signed up to do the Tri for the Y as a training triathlon, and planned to do the Cayuga Lake Sprint Triathlon as our annual challenge. At that time, I couldn't swim from one side of the pool to the other without panicking and being out of breath. After regular swim lessons, I progressed to where I could finish the Tri for the Y distance (using multiple stroke styles over the .25 mile distance) and complete the Cayuga Lake Sprint swim (750 meters using back stroke so that I wouldn't have to look at seaweed). After the race, my father politely asked me why I started after everyone and way out to the side and then promptly ran into the buoy line when I started swimming. My mother-in-law chatted with another spectator, describing me as "the one who finished last in her heat" (If memory serves, I did finish before one other swimmer, but that's beside the point!)

And Now, the Adventure Continues ...

I have taken more lessons, completed a training program on my own to work up to a continuous mile of swimming, and I'm not nearly as scared of the lake. While I do have a very LONG way to go with swimming, I try to be kind to myself and remember where I started.

First OWS of 2014

In preparation for the Cayuga Lake, I have been pool swimming: not often enough, but some. Jenny is also doing this tri and last Tuesday (a week and a few days prior to the event) we went to her sister's lake house. We planned to swim to the buoy and back (~ .5 mile). It seemed simple enough. I took off my wedding ring and popped it into my goggle bag and we hopped in. 1:15 (that's just over a minute, folks) later I panicked and we were standing on the shore. As we were deciding whether to get back in or bail, I pointed to what looked like a stick in the water and said "Is that a stick or a snake?" Just as Jenny got ready to answer, the object sipped water. It was a snake and we were done.

I reasoned that I could swim comfortably if we had a kayak next to us, so I frantically called my friend Kathey to see if we could come to her house and have her be our boating escort. Unfortunately, she wasn't home and while she was more than willing to have us swim at her house, I knew I'd panic the same way there.

Luckily Jenny was feeling brave, and without much deliberation we decided to head to the swimming area at Taughannock Park. We raced into our cars and headed to the park before we changed our minds.

This swim went marginally better in that we swam for about 20 minutes. There was a lot of stopping and starting, but I felt okay. Jenny pulled herself through the water very confidently, but felt worn out. She left knowing she had to work on maintaining a pace that wouldn't wear her out. I felt okay and while I was on the edge of panic about seaweed most of the time, I learned that my challenge would be to move my body. All of the swimming stroke knowledge that I have departs my head in the lake. I always resort to mere survival, with a very small amount of forward motion.

Later that afternoon, I remembered my ring was in my goggle bag. Not thinking much of it, I planned to put it on later in the day. Right before dinner I discovered the bag was missing! I assumed it had fallen out of my gym bag when we raced away from Jenny's sister's house. Just last week, Scott and I had a discussion about my "gym bag management" because I never zip the pockets and things fall out all the time. A quick downward spiral began where I vowed to not do the tri next year, chastised myself for losing my ring the same week as my 16th wedding anniversary, and off I headed to the lake house to search for the ring. It wasn't there, but luckily Scott had lost his last year and found it. He was understanding and I was cautiously optimistic. The next morning, Jenny checked her bag one last time on a whim and found my goggle bag in her gym bag. We have the same goggles and she had grabbed mine in our haste to leave. Relief!

And the follow up on swimming ... after talking about whether to swim a lot between then and the race, or whether to wing it after that one time, I've been in the lake 2 more times. I feel more confident, and I have an answer to the question about why I always start the bike with a really sick stomach. It is because about halfway through the swim I really panic. Both of these training swims have ended with my stomach sick. I always thought it was nutrition and now that I know it is nerves I feel that I am better prepared to handle it. Hopefully, I will get in the lake at least one more time before Sunday! I am attending an OWS training clinic on Saturday August 2nd.