In an Octopus' Garden...
Well folks...it's getting real! Today myself, and about 50 others, braved the early June waters of Kitsilano beach! Twice a week the Vancouver Open Water Swim Association holds practice swims along the bouys. Yes that's right, the very bouys along which I will be swimming for twelve hours! I won't lie, I was quite nervous as I pulled my wetsuit up. It was all about the temperature. I couldn't help but think - if it's too cold today, for an hour, I am done. The massive group of us ascended the sand towards the water. I hung back a wee bit and watched the fleet take off. By the time I finally felt ready to face the music I was one of six people sauntering in. At first it was cold. Quite cold. However, after a few moments I realized that I had expected much worse. It was actually quite nice. In fact, the temperature was one of the only wonderful things about this swim.
Somehow I didn't notice the red tide until I was submerged in it. Under the water it seemed as though I was a small bug flapping around in a dark muddy puddle. The water was brown, or orange in certain light. I knew right away and struggled not to swallow any of it as the waves crashed into my face. I was mildly successful. The strangest thing about the water was that I couldn't even see my own hands entering the water in front of me. I was swimming blind - into drift wood, the bouys, the legs of other swimmers. Gong show!
All the challenges aside, I ended up swimming twice around the bouy course. That took about an hour, so I imagine in twelve hours (with sunblock breaks) I can get in about 20 laps. A hand full of others joined me in the second lap, which was even more difficult as you couldn't look up and follow the pack...the sunlight and waves made searching for the small bouys a where is waldo adventure. Eventually you always find him!
For the first ocean swim of the season I am pretty happy. I cannot tell you how great it feels to have gotten to this point. And I haven't gotten sick from drinking the red tide!
Happy June! Until next week...I'm going to swim 3 laps. Who wants to join me?