Saturday February 24th, 2011
Location: Lake Cane, located South West of Orange County Florida
Air Temp 56 degrees F
Water Temperature 70 degrees F
I have been in Florida 1 day, arriving lateThursday night, Saturday I am scheduled to swim, I have researched a local pool only 2.5 miles away, they have a Masters group that trains 10:00am – 12:00pm each Saturday and my plan is to catch a swim with them. I looked up the directions, pool hours and Masters practice online and am all set for a swim tomorrow and I am excited to meet and swim with some Florida swimmers. I call the pool to double check plans for tomorrows swim, a super polite guy answers the phone, I ask about tomorrow’s swim and he apologetically explains that the pool is closed for the day for a swim meet tomorrow, RATS!
Time for the back up plan, and that is travelling to Lake Cane for Lucky’s lake swim, I don’t know much about it except the location and the time of the swims, I set my alarm for 6:00am and pack my swim bag ready for the morning.
I wake before my alarm, I always do, I am excited to learn more about Lucky, his Lake swim and the swimmers who swim there. I say goodbye to my husband Jeff, ” if you don’t feel safe don’t do it” he says, there is a short silence and he gives me a knowing look, ” call me when you are out of the water”…
I creep out of the condominium so as not to wake the rest of the family, then I am in the car navigating how to get to Lake Cane, “this maybe tougher than the swim “, I think to myself.
ABOUT LAKE CANE
Lake Cane is an 85 acres spring fed lake with a depth of approximately 18ft, the water temperature ranges from 60 degrees F to 90 degrees F. Alligators have been seen in the lake at time and some swimmers do swim with knives but there has never been an Alligator attack.
The swim is done at a persons own risk. There are no lifeguards or rescue boats. Participants are expected to be accomplished swimmers, others are told not to swim. Swimmers are encouraged to swim with a flotation aid such as a pull buoy or wetsuit.
( This is a description I read about Lake Cane and Lucky’s Lake swim after my swim…I was curious to find out more after the dip, pleased I didn’t read before I swam!)
The directions lead me to a residential street, ” follow the directions the house has large iron gates with AQUATICA on the top, drive in and park, if there is no room park on the grass or one the street”
I pull up in front of a large 2 story house, the gates are as described, AQUATICA is on top of the large ion gates. I scan the layout, it is 7:35am, I don’t see anyone around, then a car pulls up opposite me, a guy jumps out, grabs a wetsuit from his car, walks through the gates, down past the house towards a lake, I get out of the car and follow.
Adjacent to the house is a small card table with a pen and pile of liability release forms, I fill one out, leave it on the table and continue down to a dock by the lake. As I walk past the house I notice a 3 lane lap pool at the back of the house enclosed by a screened in area and equipped with a basketball hoop and volleyball net for water fun.
When I approached the lake I noticed 2 guys beginning to put wetsuits on, I asked them how many people come and swim, one replied ” I haven’t been in a while with the water being so cold”, I other chimed in ” there were only 6 swimmers last Saturday because it’s cold, in the summer there can be 200-300 swimmers”.
” Wow, that’s alot ” I reply as I edge closer to the water, I have been indoor for 4 months in 82 degree water and I am about to find out what my body remembers about cold water swimming and what it does not! I gingerly put me feet in the water, it feels delightful, I guess about 70 degrees, I decide not dawdle with my feet in their just in case something is lurking!
The guys see me pull my feet out ” See” ” Cold”. I keep quiet.
One by one more people come to the waters edge, they are incredibly friendly, some are in wetsuits, some have on booties, me, women of all ages begin to appear, at least 15 swimmers are now gathered all with one thing in common, swimming with Lucky in the lake today!. One guy strides onto the dock and puts a scoop into a big whiskey barrel, the scoop comes out of the barrel loaded with some sort of pellets, he tosses it into the water and the next thing I know their are a frenzy of fish jumping and thrashing around trying to get to the food first, ” Florida Pirhanna” he says with a smile.
I check my watch 7:45am, what happens next I wonder and which one is Lucky? Just then the chatter quieted down and Lucky appeared, he welcomed everyone and asked if there were any first time swimmers, I and one other fellow sheepishly raised our hands, Lucky said ” Welcome and be sure to sign off on the liability waiver before you swim, just in case….” there was a roar of laughter and then he said” be sure to come in and sign your name on the wall after you swim” and then it was on with the other announcements.
One swimmer was celebrating his 80th Birthday and was to receive an award for crossing the lake 100 times, he was awarded a special cap, we all cheered, it was really great to see the spirit and comradery of this wonderful swim group led by Lucky. I have since read that Lucky started a 1 kilometer swim at his home in 1989. In 1995 it became a daily swim except for Sundays. In 1999 swimmers began signing Lucky’s wall of fame on the back of Lucky’s house, Lucky would write a sporting accomplishment under someones name if one existed, some include Olympic swimmers, National record holders and scores of iron man distance finishers. In fact there seemed to be alot of Iron man athletes present today, most people were wearing wetsuits……not Lucky of course!
I wonder when the swim will start, by now me and 5-6 other swimmers have edged waist deep into the water, Lucky strides into the water goggles down and is off, everyone else follow….so do I!
The water feels amazing, silky warm, the sun is rising and I can see the sunrise each time I roll to breath, I feel like I am on a tropical Island…I am not, the water is in reality quite murky, here is the inside of my suit after the swim, it was white when I entered the water.
|Not white now! Post swim suit before rinsing!
I drink in the wonderful feeling of stretching out, long strokes, no walls and that outdoor feel I am thrilled! Before I know it we are at the other end of the lake, Lucky and 2 other fellows are there before me, I turn and swim back to the dock and decide I just have to swim some more, I swim 2 more laps, each lap is 1 kilometer. After 3km out of the water.
|After the swim
Then it’s T shirt on over my wet suit and up to thank everyone for their hospitality. I popped my head in to the screened in pool and say thanks, ” Have you signed the wall” was the reply, ” Well no” I said, before I know it I have a marker in hand and am scoping out a spot on the ceiling to proudly plant my name.
I found a spot…..
Lucky and his group of swimmers couldn’t have been more hospitable, this swim was a gem, I was so warmly welcomed and sent away with my very own I survived bumper sticker and patch, if you are ever down this neck of the woods I dip is definitely in order, thanks Lucky!
|Lucky Meisenheimer and Me after the swim
I later read that Lucky has made over 15,000 Lake crossings, I am curious to calculate how many crossings I would have made in 2010 had I been swimming in Lucky’s lake, drum roll….. da da da daaaaaa the total is 1,617 crossings. What Fun!!!
Next up back to Stowe and more laps indoors AND a new adventure on the horizon, West Coast Swimming, surely California will be warm…..or will it, coming up next swimming in Santa Barbara with the ocean ducks, will I be chillin? I’ll keep you posted!