Day: Friday March 18th
Weather Conditions: Snarly
Wind: 7 kmots with 11.1knot wind gusts
Air Temperature: 46.2 Degrees
Water Temperature: 53.6 Degrees
Current Location: En Route to the Golden Gate Bride
|Golden Gate Bridge on the horizon|
WAVE TO THE PORPOISES
The waves are growing larger the closer we get to the Golden Gate Bridge, when we started this boat ride the bridge was tiny in the distance, now it is looming up before me, a symbol of power and stability, a tower of strength. As we approach another swimmer sights porpoises playing just beyond the bridge, ” soon we’ll be joining them” I think!
The waters below the bridge are uncontrolled, random swirls of water mixed in with swells that tilt the boat to one side and the other without any choreography..it is blind random.
The boat pulls up under the bridge, to the right there is a whirlpool wider than the boat, it looks like a huge invisible wooden spoon is stirring the water in a giant cauldron, the water seems to be screaming out to us on the boat” I’ll get you my pretties ha ha ha ha haaaaa “.
Leslie is scanning the water for a JUMP zone for us, ” we are moving back to the other side of the bridge, with the Tsunami hitting the West coast last Friday the water is unpredictable”.
The boat motors back under the bridge and we stop, ” 10 minutes to jump time” Leslie shouts over the wind gusts.
|” 10 Minutes to JUMP”|
“OK, time to get sorted”, I think to myself, but what first, it does not seem like a good idea to stand here in my black one piece suit counting down the seconds for 10 minutes, (on the other hand I might be so uncomfortable by then that the prospect of being in this water just may be better than shivering on the boat!)
I decide to start with cap, goggles and ear plugs….there done. OK, now shoes, socks and fleece leggings off…. easier said than done, I am swaying from side to side in an attempt to navigate lifting up my foot to get my shoes off, after 3 attempts I manage to get my shoes off and into the plastic bag, next up the ice breaker New Zealand super toasty socks, darn those sock are legendary and now they are rendered useless in the bag. Just a few minutes to go, vest off, the only thing left is my Burton aqua blue zip up under layer….it’s staying on right to the last few seconds!
I home in on instructions from Leslie, ” the waves are big, you won’t be able to see the support boat but we’ll be there”, then she shouts ” do we want to do this?”, a bit of a pause them some shouts YEAHHHH…. “best not to process that question”, I think to myself, ” I am taking the plunge and you can be darn sure I am making it to shore one way or another!”
I look over at Dave Barra, he is on my boat and I am happy about that, I recognized his name from the list of swimmers that was emailed out a few days ago, and also from the 10 mile Greater Kingdom Lake swim held in Lake Memphramagog, Vermont, he swam the event in July 2009, I swam the July 2010, our times for the course are similar, I am hoping we will be of similar pace, he has much more OW experience than me and I am pleased he is in my pod.
” Ten, Nine, Eight, Seven, Six, Five, Four, Three, Two ,One” Leslie counts us down, it is time to take a leap of faith, I JUMP!
Check out some of the other pod swimmers jumping off the boat here…….
There are hectic shouts to the kayaks, YOUR SWIMMER IS THERE, BARRY YOUR SWIMMER ARE OVER THERE”, then it is just a blur of wind, rain and waves….. head down and I am off, ” let’s get this show on the road” I think, time to bust it to shore, ” where are the other swimmers in our pod, I see Dave and Christian, we are underway!
I do a body scan, hmmm nothing feels miserable or cold, the rough conditions help me to feel good, it always seems to warm me up and it makes it feel like an adventure, I feel good. I laugh to myself, ” out of all the issues I have right now the cold is at the bottom of the list, here is the unofficial list:
# 1 Current
# 2 Waves
# 3 Swell
# 4 Seal Lions
# 5 53 degree water
…… I laugh again, no issues, I am on a mission to the shore, game on.
It is challenging and exciting all rolled into one, the water is turbulent, I feel the current thrusting me forward, it feels like someone has pushed the fast forward button on the remote control and I am the movie being fast forwarded, it is a frenzy of activity, I am EXCITED!
I look over to my right Dave B and I are stroke for stroke, I like swimming alongside him, his experience shines through as he navigates the waves with long relaxed strokes. Every now and then a swell picks me up and Dave is gone, then I sight him again and a swell picks him up and he disappears, this happens over and over.
I breathe to my right and take in the Golden Gate Bridge, I command myself to “NOTICE” the bridge and not my unofficial list of issues, just this moment and the beauty of the Golden Gate Bridge, how fortunate I am to not only see it but to be swimming under it, I choose to live in the moment and it feels great!
Before long I notice Alcatraz while breathing to my left, ” I must be making it down the shipping lane” .
I am chasing the yellow kayak and starting to set my eyes on the land mark that is my cue to begin the turn towards the opening to Aquatic Park, you know the one that Leslie told me NOT TO MISS.
I am not getting very far very fast, ” Holy Crap Dog”, this current is not pussy footing around, I dig my hands deeper and pull hard, ” I AM NOT MISSING THIS OPENING!”.
I feel my obliques straining as I pull, I kick hard, I sprint giving it all I have got, I fight and finally make it to the opening of Aquatic Park.
The yellow Kayak guy says ” Well done fighting the current”, I relax and start thinking about that hot shower at the South End Rowing Club. To my left is the bow of a ship, I notice it as I breathe to my left while picturing the steamy HOT shower, good times, good times!
I take 20 more strokes and breath to the left again, hang on…….didn’t I just pass that ship? I did, it is now infront of me, the penny drops…I AM GOING BACKWARDS! The current has got a hold of me and is pulling me back towards the open water of San Francisco Bay, I instantly begin to sprint once more, pulling hard, spinning my arms fast and fighting to get to shore, I feel the bottom and pull myself to my feet and make a beeline to the hot shower, ….WOW feels like a million bucks!
I shower and I shower, finally I pry myself out of the shower and into the sauna, it fells wonderful. After an extended bake in the sauna I pluck up the courage to get out and dressed, I regroup with some of the other swimmers in the entry way of the South End Rowing Club long enough to catch a photo and swap a few stories, they are all off to breakfast together and kindly invite me I would LOVE to join them but the clock is ticking and I have a conference to attend, we say our goodbyes and head off in differnet directions.
My clothes are drenched, my suit is trashed and I am exhilerated….what a great morning!
|Me, Julie and Amanda at the South End Rowing Club after ” The Swim”|
Next up? Karlyn Pipes Neilson in Stowe
Back East and back in the pool, in less than 2 weeks my friend, swim clinician and coach Karlyn Pipes Neilson is coming to Stowe visit, I am excited to see her and if I am lucky we will catch a swim or two, she is as fast as a phone call with over 200 World records, a world class swimmer and teacher, when I swim with her I practice ” Monkey see, Monkey do…. I can’t wait!
How will it feel being back in the Pool at 82 degrees? I’ll keep you posted!