Tag: open water

Scary Swim

So today I was planning on swimming at my gym with my swim coach this morning but he ended up cancelling.  Soon after that I got a text from my friend Erin that KSL was planning on filming some GSL swimmers for their coverage of the race this Saturday.  I figured it would be fun to be on TV and nice to get a swim in before the big race.

Erin, Kris, Josh, Goody, Chad and few others were there and we waited for the KSL team for about 45 minutes.  Finally we got the word they weren’t coming so we went in for a swim.  It was windy but in the marina the waves didn’t seem so bad but once we got out into the open water it was another story.   Almost immediately I was carried away in high steep waves (some in our group have guessed 4 ft, others 5 ft).  Pushing through I made it to the first buoy (the tide was pushing you out so getting to the buoy wasn’t too hard but it was getting back that freaked me out.)

I started to push for the white buoy wanting to keep up with my friends but about half way there I realized I wasn’t going to make it.  I actually got kind of scared and believe me it takes a lot to scare me in the water.  I’m a pretty tough cookie.  Josh saw I was struggling and told me to keep following the waves to the rocky beach and get out.  He was very kind to guide me to the shore. (I have the best swim friends!)

There was a scary patch before the turn to the beach loaded with huge rocks.  I was nervous about getting banged into the rocks and getting hurt.  My friend Erin said she would carry me back to the marina if needs be (I really do have the best swim friends!).

The nice thing is when you are in the heat of the stroke you don’t really feel all the chaos.  It’s not until you get up for air that you get scared.  I think there is something to that.  Remember how Peter was calm on the water until he started to look at the waves and then he felt fearful…Something to think about.

Anyway, I made it through the big rocks injury free (I am super scared of an injury that would screw up all my training!).  and then made it to the beach.  When I got out of the water I realized how much I had been kicking.  I felt like my legs were rubber.  It was hard to even half way stand up, especially on those rocks!

Josh went up to the marina and got my flip-flops (reminder to wear better shoes to the lake!).  Eventually I found my legs and made it back to the solid ground.

You might think this experience would make me more nervous for Saturday and maybe it does a little bit (it would hard to be much more anxious about it than I already am but that’s just my personality) but there is something about facing your fears and coming out on top that is exhilarating.  Seeing nature in all its majesty and  power is scary and awe inspiring at the same time.

But, I remember that my friends will be there on Saturday and there will be lots of monitoring to keep things safe.  I have trained hard and done the best I can.  I survived today and I will make it on Saturday.  So, if anything I am more confident than ever before for my race.  Maybe Saturday will seem like a piece of cake compared to today! In that sense today could be a real gift.

My twitter after getting out of the water- “So victory today at GSL. I didnt die! Really rough waters. Scary!”

It was a victory and I made it through. 🙂

GSL Clinic 2012

The medal I WILL be getting next Saturday!

Today was a great day! As you all know I’ve been training for months to get ready for the first race of the open water season- the Great Salt Lake Marathon Swim next Saturday.  To help us prepare Josh and Gords held a clinic tonight at the lake.  There was a good turnout with a lot of new swimmers (I’ve had 3 salt swims so I’m experienced 😉 ).

I went down with my friend Heidi.  It was her first time in the GSL so that was fun.  It’s always fun to carpool with a swim friend and chat.  They really are the best people I know.

Anyway, we started with some instruction from Josh and Gords about open water safety, equipment and the course.  I really appreciate the time they and their families give to introduce others to and support the open water community.

My friend Heidi and I after the swim

I bought a safe swimmer today.  This is a devise I’ve been meaning to get for a while.  It helps you be more visible in the open water.  Plus, it provides floatation if an emergency occurs.  I recommend any open water swimmer purchases onehttp://www.utahopenwater.com/p/safeswimmer-device.html

Then we got in the water.  It was cold at first but really not that bad.  I felt strong and got some sighting/swimming tips from my friends.  The nice thing about the GSL is you get tired you can relax and float!   The salt is still kind of shocking (My friend calls it going for a quick pickle!).  We swam around a 1/2 mile and it felt good.  I feel more confident than ever before about next week.  All my training is paying off!

One of my goals this summer was to introduce someone to open water swimming.  I’d love to nurture someone’s talent the way others nurtured mine.  Well, I have a twitter friend who I’ve never met but we chat on occasion.  I’ve told her about open water swimming and encouraged her to sign up for her local swim in September.  Today she said “thanks! I’ve been thinking about doing it for a couple years now, but you have inspired me to actually go for it!” That made me feel really good. It’s amazing how connected we all are to each other in a positive way. The idea that my little life might inspire another makes me so happy.  I’m glowing!

Today was one of those days that makes me happy to be me!

First Open Water Swim

So I am pumped! The beginning of the open water swim season has started. As many of you know I am training for the Great Salt Lake Open Water Swim.  It will be the first of 3 open water swimming races this year- Great Salt Lake, Deer Creek and Slam the Dam.  Naturally I will be swimming in the open water much more than 3 times, every week if I can.

My goal this year is to introduce someone new to the sport.  I know it sounds scary but its really exhilarating.   You also have never met nicer people of all ages, shapes and sizes.  Can’t swim very well? I’ve seen people make incredible strides in a matter of weeks.

Anyway, today my friends and I went out to the Great Salt Lake and swam through the marina and around the buoys several times.  I started to get water in my goggles (a bad thing in the GSL) so I had to go in but I was tired so its just as well.  I’d say I was in the water 45 minutes or so.

Before swimming in the GSL

I was really worried about the water temperature and how my muscles would react.  Fortunately this has been a warm winter and the water is already 70 degrees!  It felt cold at first but its amazing how quickly you adjust and it was fine.  The greater challenge was the wind and the choppiness in the water.  That’s the hardest part of open water swimming but its also part of the excitement when you finish.

There is an optical illusion that happens every time I swim in the open water.  Whatever you are sighting seems so far off, until you are practically on top of it.  It feels like you aren’t making progress and so when you arrive its twice as thrilling! You did what momentarily you felt you could not do.  Its great!

Seriously friends come out with me sometime.  If you do I will buy you dinner!  I think you will enjoy it as much as I do and if not you got a free dinner. 🙂 .  Other lakes are opening now as well as the GSL such as Bountiful Lake and Blackridge.  Hurray!

http://www.utahopenwater.com/

To read about my other open water swims:

https://smilingldsgirl.wordpress.com/2011/08/15/open-water-swim/

https://smilingldsgirl.wordpress.com/2011/10/02/slam-the-dam/

Slam the Dam

Today I am writing to you as a very tired, worn out swimmer!  As any reader of this blog knows I have been preparing for weeks to swim my second open water swim in Las Vegas called Slam the Dam.  It is held at Lake Meade near Las Vegas and this is the second year of the competition.  My first swim was at the much smaller Deer Creek Open Water Swim and I’m glad I got to ‘test out the waters’ in a smaller environment.

This swim was different in many ways.  To begin with I had sacrificed more of my time and money to get there.  For Deer Creek I had trained for about a month hard core and it was a 30 minute drive from my house.  For Slam the Dam I have trained for 2 months, taken time off work and spent considerable money on fees, bus tickets and other expenses.  Let’s just say there was a lot more than an afternoon of swimming invested in Saturday’s swim.

The weekend started on Friday when I caught the greyhound bus to Vegas (I decided to take the bus because I don’t like long drives by myself and I’m glad I did.  It was nice to rest and not drive- especially on the way home).

The ride took around 7 1/2  hours but eventually I made it to Vegas and met up with my Aunt Rose and Uncle Bruce.  They were nice enough to have me at their home for the weekend, take me to my race, and even stayed to watch me compete.  I really appreciate their hospitality and support (and all the good food!  There is always a feast when Rose cooks!)

My friend Josh and I before the race. Both him and his wife Sabrina were very encouraging and stayed to watch me compete.

Once I was settled I met up with some of my Utah Open Water friends for a pre-race dinner.  I became more acquainted with some people and made several new friends.  I can’t say enough good things about the people I have met through open water.  They have been so welcoming and friendly.  It is such a blessing in my life. (We should have taken a photo of us at dinner.  I always forget to do that at dinner gatherings!)

Fully loaded with Italian carbs (and a sleeping pill) I slept well the night of the race despite my stomach balling up with nerves.  I couldn’t help but feel anxious- a new lake, new course, new distance…with all I had invested the idea of failure was daunting and hard to ignore.

Finally the morning of the race came.  I was a little worried they might cancel the race because of lightning but thankfully the clouds abated and the race went forward.  My 1.2 mile swim was the last event of the morning and since they ran about 30 minutes behind I had plenty of time to stretch and prepare myself mentally.

this is me before the race

Eventually my race was called and we went off in 2 batches.  I had signed up for the race before I became a USMS Member, so I was in the second group.  It was kind of funny because they didn’t give any lead up such as ‘on your marks’ or ‘1,2,3’.  It was just a horn and go!

my racing group. You can see me in the middle with the purple swim suit.

Off we went!  The water was warm, around 80 degrees, but because of the wind and storminess it was very choppy.  I think you can kind of tell that from the above photo.  I had never swam in choppy water before and it was an entirely different beast.  As cold as Deer Creek was, it was not nearly as difficult as the water at Lake Meade.

The course was set up with a finish line path with green buoys and then four orange buoys to mark out to the half way point of the race.  Once past the fourth buoy the racers did a loop and headed the opposite direction back to the green finish line.

the 1.2 mile course

The choppy water meant the first half swimmers had to fight the current and it was very frustrating.  At times I felt like I was on s swimming treadmill and couldn’t make any progress.  It is a strange thing swimming in the open water because even in the best of circumstances it feels like you will never reach the target.  Even when you are yards away it feels much further.  (Kind of a cruel optical illusion if you ask me!).

When I rounded the 1/2 way and was heading towards the third buoy I honestly wondered if I could do it.  I kept swallowing water and the ending seemed so far off.  My lungs were burning and my entire body ached.

Without sounding cheesy it was actually a spiritual moment for me.  I stopped and said a little prayer.  “Heavenly Father, I have worked so hard.  I have sacrificed so much to be here.  Please help me finish the race.”.  Then I rested, treading water, for 30 seconds to catch my breath and refocus.  I knew I could do it.  I had to do it.  Heavenly Father helped Peter walk on water.  Surely He could help me finish my race.

this is my favorite painting and I really felt like He was there for me in the choppy water. Ok maybe it wasn't quite that choppy but it felt as insurmountable to me.

Plowing ahead into the whirlwind of water I pushed forward reaching one buoy, and then another, till finally the green finish line was within my view.  I stopped for another second to take it in and went as quickly as I could until a man said ‘You are done.  Congratulations!”  I think I about hugged him and it took me several minutes to get out of the water.  I was also trying to figure out my time, which turned out to be 1 hour 14 minutes- slower than I wanted, but considering the choppy water, I was satisfied.  I had done my best.

You can see the moment in this clip

When I think back to the race it is hard to not contemplate my life.  There are sacrifices and tests and the water is often choppy, but when we need Him the Lord is always there, and with His help we can finish the race.

I, like Paul, can say  “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7)

On that note here, I am with my ‘finisher medal’ and the Elvis impersonator (only in Vegas.  They called him the ‘El-fish’!).

me and the el-fish!

I would like to say thank you to everyone who helped me cross that line.  To my family and friends for all their support and love. To Bruce and Rose and all the volunteers at Slam the Dam for taking time out of their busy lives to make my dreams come true.  To everyone at Utah Open Water especially Erin, Kate, and Josh.  The lessons, pep talks and encouragement did more than you know.  Thank you for welcoming me into your group and helping me feel like I’m part of a swimming family.  Thanks to my trainers Michele and Dave for pushing and praising me in just the right balance.

Thanks mostly to my Heavenly Father for never leaving me alone, especially when the waters are rough and the course feels impossible.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Now on to the next goal!  No more open water swims until June but there are  masters meets and a myriad of other challenges and opportunities.

My medals for finishing both races. Never was a medal more prized than these! I'm trying to think of a creative way to display them like a shadowbox or something. Any ideas?