It’s official 2015 open water season has begun and life is happy for yours truly. Next week is the GSL 1 mile swim and it will be my 4th year swimming it. I am probably my least prepared for it but I had a test swim today and it gave me more confidence for next week. They said I swam about .9 miles today and it wasn’t too bad so I think it will be great for the race. Please pray I will be able to sleep next Friday because that could be a problem since the race is early in the morning.
Today was the GSL Open Water clinic and it was a huge success.
Getting in the Great Salt Lake is an experience. Your whole body reacts to the salt. Your nose and any other tender spots burn, your skin tingles and the water feels heavy like no other. As you are swimming you can feel the salt sucking strength from your body as you quickly get dehydrated with no relief. People think it is like the ocean. It is nothing like the ocean. 5 times saltier than the ocean in fact!
It was so funny some tourists from New York asked us for tips during their stay and where they could buy “local shrimp”. I didn’t know what they meant at first and realized they were talking about the brine shrimp! These are microscopic organisms that live in the Great Salt Lake, the only living organism in the lake. Certainly not the kind of shrimp they were hoping for!
This year the water is very shallow and it seemed extra potent. It’s so shallow they had to take all the boats out and have them in the parking lot. We started at the marina and then they had about 5 buoys set out going towards the south beach. The GSL swim has always been a straight shot to the Black Rock beach but this year they are doing a loop to one of the rocky beaches because of the water (if they did Black Rock it would have to be half swim half run and I’d be out).
I have decided this year to swim in batches of 50 and as I was testing out my stroke I think it will be good to alternate breaststroke and freestyle. Sighting is so hard in Great Salt Lake even with buoys and the current can be very strong. There is something so motivating about swimming breaststroke open water because you can see your target dead on. It is a little bit slower probably but it feels faster in the moment which is very encouraging.
Open water is such a mental sport. It always feels like I am never going to get to the target. I tell my friends it feels like you are on a swimming treadmill. Even when you are very close it seems like you aren’t going to make it to the final destination.
But today I went out of the marina area and then about a half mile and then swam back to the marina. Gordon told me it was .9 of a mile so pretty close. This has given me great encouragement for next Saturday. I was really nervous since I haven’t swam open water since last July but now I feel confident. I’ll be tired but I know I can cross the finish line!
My friend Etsuko is swimming open water this year (hurray!) and her friend could not understand why we would get in that stinky ‘cesspool water”. It’s hard to explain. Sometimes the swims give me anxiety and stress me out but there’s nothing like the feeling of finishing especially at GSL.
There is something about the human experience that needs to occasionally do hard things. And people don’t expect a big girl like me to do something hard. With my feet issues I can’t run or do anything like that so when I first went to open water it was like finding my home. It was where I belonged with all the other misfits who love the water. Even among swimmers a very small percentage do open water.
I’ve had so many people I’ve taken to the lakes and they hated it. It was dirty. It was gross. It was cloudy. But then every once in a while there will be someone like Etsuko, my friend Abby or myself who love it. We love the challenge. We love being out in nature. We love the unpredictability. We love the comradarie and family but at a certain point we just love it.
It’s like when you love key lime pie you can say a few things that you like but it in the end comes down to your taste buds just like it. Same with me and open water. It is hard. It makes me nervous and I doubt myself sometimes but I love it. It fits me and I am SOOOOOO Excited for the summer.
I hope you can all find your athletic match and hopefully it can be outdoors enjoying the beautiful, crazy and sometimes stinky world God has given us.
Stay tuned for tons of fun open water updates this summer and all the excitement of next weeks big race! Go SLOW!