Ocean swimming is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get.
This morning we took another go at the full double roughwater course. Last time we did it (like 4-5 weeks ago?) it wasn't even planned... it just happened to be such a beautiful perfectly calm day and we were enjoying the warm clear water swim so much that we made the last minute decision to go all the way to the turn-around buoy. That ended up being quite a hard swim, even on such a perfect day. Today, based on the conditions, we figured we were in for it right from the start, but it was fine. We were ready. We wanted it. Bring it on. Come on, ocean! Whattya GOT???
The ocean was angry that day, my friends...
I don't quite know how to describe it in words, but it was epic. There were big swells. I mean, big swells. Generated by the 35 mph gusts of wind. And the whole way out they were going with us. I swear, half the time I felt like I was body surfing. The water would just come pick us up and push us forward and then slam us down the other side. It was tough to find a rhythm with my stroke. At times I just left one hand out front and pulled with only one arm while kicking madly to try to catch and use the wave's energy. It was actually quite fun, as long as I kept the right attitude. I remember thinking that it was awesome and bad ass that we were out there, and that we were not afraid. These were the kind of ocean conditions that many people would be genuinely afraid of. Rightfully so I suppose. Maybe I'm just an idiot for not being afraid, but really, we were fine. (There were 3 of us swimming and we had 2 kayakers with us so that probably helped reduce the Fear Factor.)
Did you know that while the swell can be going with you, the current can be fiercely against you? I knew that, but I'd never experienced it to this degree. At one hour, when we should have been at the buoy, we stopped to assess the situation. And while we could see the big red buoy, well, we weren't exactly close to it. OK, so this was going to be a longer swim than we originally anticipated. I tried to keep the negative thoughts out. Stay relentlessly positive, Michelle.
So I put my head down and did my best to keep swimming. Problem with keeping my head down in todays crystal clear water is that I could see all the jellyfish we were swimming right over! They were everywhere. I got brushed by a couple but no serious stings. I don't think I've ever seen so many though. Try that sometime... swimming for over an hour in ocean water so deep that even though its crystal clear you can't see the bottom and knowing you were still probably 20 minutes from your turn around and the swells are throwing you all around and your arms have been numb for the last 15 minutes because the water isn't so warm today and then you see all the jellyfish right underneath you... Stay relentlessly positive, Michelle.
We got to the turn around buoy in 1:21. Our kayakers gave us our GUs. I brought vanilla bean b/c I like that one and know what to expect with it. Nalani gets a bunch of free ones b/c she is sponsored by GU but lots of hers come in unmarked packaging... just silver packages that say 'new flavor'. It's always a wild guess at which one you'll get if you play GU Roulette like that. I laughed so hard while Nalani was trying to eat her silver mystery GU and she got slammed by a big wind swell wave just as she was swallowing. She came back up and said, "Mmmmmm. Gingerbread." Maybe you had to be there. But it was quite funny at the time.
Heading back we couldn't even hardly swim. All the big swells that carried us forward on the way out were now against us and it was just a ridiculous endeavor to try to swim through them. But somehow we did it. Nalani's dad (one of our kayakers) was having an even harder time than we were going back into the wind. For much of the way back, in fact, he was behind us because he couldn't get the kayak to go straight into the wind and swells. The good news (I mean, really good news) was that the current was very strongly with us coming back. So even though the chop on top made swimming very hard, if I could look and see the bottom of the ocean (at times I could) I saw that we were mooovin'! Man, how I wished that I didn't have to breathe and could just dive under and dolphin kick my way back. That would have been awesome. But as it was, we still made it back in 41 minutes! You do the math and figure out the strength of the current when it took twice as long to get out as it did to get back!?! Nutso, man.
We were all so pleased though getting out of the water today. So so so different than last time. My swimming endurance is just heads and tails above where it was last time we attempted this because I didn't even feel that tired at the end. Jennifer said it best when she said, "Well, THAT was a confidence building swim." No kidding. I think we all managed to stay relentlessly positive, we all felt strong at the end, and we all know that no mater what the ocean conditions are, we will be ready for the Double RoughWater Swim! 3 weeks! :)