WHACK, ” what was that?”, I roll to see myself in close proximatey with Cynthia’s kayak which just connected with the top of my foot , my foot aches for a few strokes, then my focus shifts back to my next breath, we are talking about a top ten list here and air, moving forwards and my first feed are my top priorities. The collision is soon put out of my mind. I swim on, my body on auto pilot, my mind focused on the next stroke, I reach for a song, tonight’s ” I’m bullet proof, nothing to lose, I am Titanium”, I sing away in my mind,I have what I’d describe as an underwater voice, best not to be heard above the water. The song revs me up to punch at the waves with even more strength, I grit my teeth and drive forwards with each stroke.
That’s No Boat!
” OOOOOUCH, that’s INTENSE!”, another hit, ” What was THAT?”, this one is painfully different, unlike anything I’ve ever felt before, clamping on to my what feels like whole right side”, my mind is trying to make sense of the sharp, powerful blow I ‘ve just been blindsided with,” whatever it is has left go”, I think swimming onwards, “I feel like I’ve been smacked with a plank of wood with nails sticking out of it”, the pain lingers, I swim on, I’ve swum with pain before, but this is higher on the pain threshold level than anything I’ve encountered before, one stroke after the other, I swim on, my mind shifts gears to ” what just hit me?”
I am curious by nature, my mind kicks into gear to make sense of what just happened, it wants answers ” somthing just hit me in the side”, I think, as I scan my right side, I sight the kayak, too far away, I sight the boat, not a chance, way to my left, ” YIP that was NOT a boat”, I say, thrilled with myself that I am ruling out some of the possibilities, my mind is busy trying to draw from all my sea swimming encounters:
Well that was no log, definately not a Dolphin, I LOVE them and that hit was far from appealing! Seal, nope, neither was it like the trash floating in the English Channel, one Channel Swimmer bumped into a refridgerator, definately wasn’t that. Not like the lobster traps I bumped into in Maine and Boston Harbor and definately not a crab, I duked it out with lots of them as a kid in New Zealand. What about a Jelly Fish? Well they sting for sure, although not sharp like this, certainly not the same forceful impact, how about a “Mutant Jelly Fish?”, you know like a “GODZILLA JELLY”, there we go a solution, I am happy for now with that explaination, and with that I swim off into the dark, my mind content that it may have been a Jelly Fish, I am quickly back on task, I am here to SWIM, Game on, you are not tossing me aside that easily Catalina Channel, I’m right back in your face!
And that is the last time of think of it, I am 120% committed to swimming to the mainland and navigating whatever is up next, a big part of my training has been learning my doing that you can’t control everything that happens, you can control how you react.
Suddenly a welcome sight, a light stick circling in the black night air, SWEET, time for my feed, that’s one hour, I swim over towards light which I know = Cynthia and FOOD, I eagerly await sight of my feed cup,my fuel, a welcome treat!
With one fowl sweep from a swell Cynthia is gone, all I can see is the bottom of the Kayak, ” Oh No Cynthia”, gone with a swirl of water, there is only blackness, the overturned kayak and the boat, PHEW there she is, now moving towards the rear of the boat, bobbing in the waves, she is one tough cat!
Time to check in on my current situation…. ” OK, boat’s not moving, you can’t sit here, you gotta move it”, I say to myself, I remember Dave the Captain’s instructions, ” You are not to swim on alone in the night”, Ned Denison’s evil Torture Swim lessons from Distance Week in Ireland, are still fresh in my mind, ” If your boat breaks down, keep swimming, you can’t stop, swim around the boat until it’s ready to go”, I heard it time and time again, fortunately those torture swim lessons have stuck , thanks again Ned!
I take another look at Cynthia in the water, ” I am not leaving this side of the boat until I see she’s OK”, I say to myself and with that I start swimming laps of the length of the 50 ft boat,after each lap I stop and look for Cynthia, Lap 1, another Lap 2, another Lap 3, and another Lap 4, I can see my feed bottles being picked up by the waves and washed away, Lap 5, the Kayak and Cynthia are being pulled towards the boat, there is a light stick above me, following me as I swim my laps, I stop at the bow, ” Keep swimming Laps”, shouts the light stick, ” Are you Forrest”, I shout, I am not sure he hears me, but I think I hear ” Yes”. I put my head down and continue to swim, I stop at the bow, again, ” We are not putting in another Kayak, you are going to swim off the boat, move to the other side, stay up here”, I look at him at the bow and them swim around to the other side, I put my head back down and swim hard, I need to work hard to warm back up after the stop, I am relieved to be swimming again, once more I swim in total darkenss, it is pitch black, all I can see are the lights at the bow of the boat, I love those lights, they are a constant in this night of curve balls, I focus on them with all my might.
Will I hold strong to see the California Sunrise and what will be my next sea creature encounter? I’ll keep you posted
Here’s a hint: Here comes the sun…..
Closing Thought: Pour in your heart and soul to remain positive through the ups and downs