My Heart Will Swim On!
The night is long lasting, here is the routine, I swim, every 30 minutes my crew sends down my feed cup with a light stick attached so I can see it in the blackness of the night, hour after hour I swim on through the swells and the waves, cramps in both my upper thighs and hips plague me through the night, each time I stop to feed I draw my knees up into my chest to ease the cramping and release my lower back, feed down and I swim on, time after time, finally after 6 hours of night battle, the dense blackness begins to lift, silhouettes appear on the boat some bundled in hats, jackets and shirts, the sun begins to rise an amazing show of reds, oranges and yellows, the sunrise warms my soul.
You’re over half way, shouts from the boat convey, music to my ears, it fuels my drive even further, I swim on, Forrest’s light stick glows strong at the bow…..
Cynthia and Jen, keep my feeds coming, I can feel eyes on me, it is comforting, I swim on…..
Daylight is shooing away the night, time for another feed….
The sky is getting brighter, the swells are easing,the waves small, the white caps are gone and I am exicted, I feel strong…
On I swim, the rough night is letting my back and shoulders know that they have been in battle, with each stroke I feel a shot in the shoulder, “time to start to think about how good your toes and feet feel”, I think, the water temperature has felt very manageable all night and into the daytime, now I have an added treat…. sunshine.
Up with the sun come the dolphins, 3 pods of them, at times in front of me like they are riding the bow wave of a boat, escorting me in towards the mainland and at times I am told, right under me, looking up at me swimming, I do love dolphins.
I swim on, stroke after stroke, fortunately the conditions have continued to improve, the swells have eased, the sun is rising high in the sky, and every chance I can I am smiling towards the boat. What would you like us to tell Heidi? Shouts from the boat ask…( Heidi is my 13 year old daughter, who I ADORE!)
” Tell her I Love her”, I shout back, I know what is happening, the observers are starting to ask questions to check on my mental state, if I don’t reply or answer incorrectly it is likely ” Game Over”, for this Kiwi, my focus is “Iron Clad”.
Cynthia and Me in the Sea…
Cynthia is back in the water kayaking and I am now on the sunny side of the boat, I swim on, in and out to the big boat for feeds, 7 miles to go, I swim on, 5 miles to go, I swim on, my stroke starts to slow, 3 miles, 2 miles, the water temperature is dropping, my pace is slowing, swimming against the current I drive my head low in the water, grit my teeth and pull hard with each stroke, I am making progress, SLOW progress.
Ready for a Heady?
Those on the boat are asking questions, checking on my responses, to check in on my wellbeing and mental state…
“What’s Jen’s favourite Beer?” I am asked, ” What?”, I reply
” What’s Jen’s favourite BEER?” I am asked, ” What?” HEADY TOPPER”, I reply, ” Mate, are you serious, it’s everyone’s favorite beer, it’s THE WORLDS TOP IPA!”, I think to myself as I swim away thrilled with myself for giving such a ground breaking answer, ”YIPPEE, I think they’ll let me swim forever”, I think.
With each question I send back the correct answer and swim off…
“What’s the name of Jen’s dog?”, “What?”, I reply
“What’s the name of Jen’s dog?”, “What?, RICO “ I reply, head down I swim off once more. Rico, that little pistol, quick as a flash, rough and tumble fur, what a cute little hair bag he is”, I think as I swim, thrilled with myself that all functions are go, I sight to get a visual on the mainland it is close, I can see it, ” Kick, Kick”, I hear from the boat, ” hmm, I’m not much of a kicker”, I toss in a few token legs swings and focus on pulling hard underwater, my stroke I am sure has little resemblance of my regular stroke rate, I swim on.
Get in the Boat…
I see the signal to come into the boat once more, “You’re done, we’re calling the swim, get in the boat”, the observer shouts, my heart sinks, I obediently turn and swim towards the swimmers platform on the back of the boat, and the crew hauls me in the boat, my swim is over.
Jennifer pulls off my suit, sweatpands and sweatshirt pulled on, then she wraps me up with my sleeping bag, hat pulled down low, the boat motors back to the dock, I quietly smile under my hat, what a battle that Catalina Channel threw down last night, she fought hard and I fought back, I feel grateful to be satisfied with my efforts, ” What a mission Kiwi, what a mission and what an amazing crew, I am one lucky fish indeed!”
Farewell Outrider Crew and Observers, you guys were awesome…..
We say goodbye and huge thanks to our observers and boat crew, the car is all loaded up, me in the back, Jennifer and Cynthia in the front, in the back I just can’t seem to get comfortable, fidgeting about my sweat pants slip down exposing my hip, “ Hey, I’ve got holes in me!”, I exclaim with a laugh, “ Hold on something’s sticking out of one”, I add, with that I fish out a small object, “ Hey look, it’s a crab pincher!”, I say leaning forward to the front seat in a fit of laughter, we all laugh.
Back at the house, time to get in the shower and wash off all the dirt and grease, I am filthy, after a good wash I discover something more “ Hey Cynthia, does this look like a mouth mark?”, there on my right hip are some puncture holes and the imprint of a jaw mark. “Show me that crab pincher”, says Cynthia,” that’s not a pincher Charlotte that’s a shark tooth” she adds, we both roar with laughter and with that turn in for the night. In bed I try to get as comfortable as one can post marathon, ” how weird is that, a bite, wasn’t a Jelly Fish at all!”, I think as I drift of to sleep to dream of dolphins.
And that’s the adventure, after 12 hours of swimming I was pulled from the water, 2300 meters from shore, the Catalina Channel claimed victory that day, the shark however did not, I swam on for another 11 hours with a full set of teeth, he swam away minus one.
What’s Next? I am exicted to prepare for the 2014 Manhattan Island Marathon Swim and my long term goal? This Kiwi’s taking flight home to New Zealand to take on Cook Strait 2015, check out the clip below, this is her annoyed….
Have you heard news of the Shark ? No, we’re not tight…… AND I’m not planning on keeping in touch! However I am working with a shark researcher so he and me can learn more about the species, he is studying the water temperture, depth, other marine creatures in the area, how far I was from shore, my swim suit color, illumination and the cycle of the moon that night. I am learning a lot about sharks!
One thing is for sure, my experience is tattooed in my mind for life, the moment of impact is etchd in my memory bank forever.
Will I return to the Catalina Channel? “You bet! No worries mate, the water is great, the Catalina Channel Association and it’s observers are outstanding, and The Outrider crew, professional and super nice, I’ll be back!”
Closing Thought: I am often asked, ’How do you do it?”
The Answer: Go with your gut and have fun, for those of you who gel more with a TOP TEN HOW TO LIST, here it is…
THE Brynnswim Top Ten Tips to “ENJOY THE RIDE WHATEVER THE TIDE”
1. Whatever your goal pursue it with Passion & Determination
2. Develop GRIT , GRIT is sticking with it even when the going gets tough
3. Have a Good Attitiude, it makes a not so good day better than it might otherwise have been.
4. Have fun, everything is easier with a smile
5. Have a tolerance for failure, use it as a learning tool to fuel the fire for future successes
6. Roll with the punches, embrace them as an added Challenge
7. Only YOU can determine how you react to variables in your swimming and Life ” Roll with what you can’t control”
8. Make a difference in the lives of those around you, this will happen naturally if you are passionate about what you do.
9. Learn to embrace pain, it will be there at times, focus on what does not hurt, rather than what does, it will pass.
10. Never Give Up
~ Charlotte Brynn