One Week until my California departure date, perfect timing for the annual Lake Willoughby Race, a 5 miler end to end. This swim is part of the Kingdom Lake Swim series which features a Vermont week of scenic lake swimming, this is one of the most stunning of swims, with deep clear waters and drammatic rocky mountains.
Today Beth is racing with me, I am thrilled, she has bucket loads of experience and best of all she has great energy, when you swim alongside her she oozes an amazing blend of ” I’m on it” seriousness mixed in with lashings of ” this is a blast, I lOVE it out here”, you just can’t help but swim well and enjoy yourself. We are beachside, the day, a real crowd pleaser, I adore a splash and dash Lake swim, this is going to be a blast!
Beth has my swim plan recorded and ready to go, we are in sync….
We make our way into the water to start, some in wetsuits, some skin swimmers like me, Beth and the other kayakers paddle out a bit and wait for us to swim out, what a view!
Go Time, suddenly I am racing, I pull hard, my heart rate drives up fast, all cylinders are firing, what a rush. Beth and I quickly connect, it is always a relief to settle in alongside your kayak support after the start, I tuck in alongside her like a star fish, my eyes are fixed on her with every breath I take.
The field spreads quickly and soon all I can see is Beth, me and another kayak swimmer pair ahead and to our right drinking in the calm waters and breathtaking view with us. Beth counts my stroke at 20 minutes, gives me a signal to dig deeper for my 25 minute speed pickup, I roll through another 30 minute cycle to make an hour, then it is time for my feed, Beth reaches for my feed cup, I lurk close by ready to snatch it up, ” Thanks”, I say as I tip back the cup, gulp and go.
I notice the walls of the lake closing in, the lake narrows towards the far end and dramatic rock faces appear, we are close to half way, no time to let up, I push harder and work on eyes down, hips up and staying long to maximise my distance per stroke, Beth is holding a straight course, we make a good team. The lake continues to narrow, we are getting closer to the red kayak and swimmer team, time for my 1 hour, 20 minute stroke count, Beth signals 66 strokes per minute, the other team look on at Beth and me communicating seemlessly without uttering a word.
I am excited, red kayak swimmer pair is in sight, they are giving me a good push, I love a good race and set out to narrow the gap!
We narrow the gap as we close in to the finish, Red Kayaker swimmer pair holds the lead to take first skin swimmer overall, and me first women overall in a time of 2 hours, 5 minutes, what a swim, and good training, turns out red kayak swimmer is Scott, a strong swimmer from the Upper Valley, he gave me a great run for my money, most excellent!
Me and Beth accept our medal together and then the big honor arrives….” Charlotte, would you sign my paddle, I have had my Catalina swimmers sign it and you would be my first Lake Swimmer to sign”, Beth asks, ” No way, are you kidding me, that is such an honor, YES”, I reply, ” Great, who would you like to be next to”, Beth asks, well I scoop up the paddle and my jaw drops as I read the list of names of Marathon swimmers on Beth’s paddle, Greg O Connor, Penny Palfry, Dave Barra, I read on, ” you sure about this?” I ask Beth, she smiles and I start signing my name next to Greg’s
I am grateful for a fun day teaming up with Beth, what a blast! Time to head home, tomorrow Caspian Lake swim then it is ” Taper Time”, Rest, Yoga and packing for Catalina, I am excited, after sea swimming in Rhode Island, dodging the lobster traps in Maine and some Greater North East Kingdom Lake swimming it is time to fly.
What day and time will I swim the Catalina Channel? I’ll keep you posted