The day after tomorrow I have my first genuinely big open water swim. It is swim #1 of my Finger Lakes Swim Project – an attempt to swim the length of all 11 of NY’s Finger Lakes over the next year.
I don’t usually get nervous before events. I am confident in my training and my abilities, but I’ll admit that I have butterflies this time. The more I’ve been exposed to the wonders of open water swimming, the more I’ve fallen in love with it. There is simply no way to put into words the humbling feeling of being “in the moment” out in a big body of water, alone, under one’s own power. At the same time, I’ve also grown to appreciate just how challenging open water swimming is and how dangerous a sport it can potentially be. It certainly isn’t a sane sport. The idea of plunging into an element humans weren’t made for with its own weather, currents, tides, animals, weeds, random floating things, water craft, etc. There’s the risk of cramps and just-about-anything-creepy-in-the-water-induced panic. Oh, and than there’s the fact that you can’t stop. Once you enter the water you’re either all in or all out. Out on the trail you can take a break if you need to, but there is no way to “half-ass” an open water swim.
I think that’s what I find most attractive about the challenge and also the most frightening. Once I put in at the North end of Honeoye Lake on Saturday morning, there are no breaks until I get out at the South end 4.5 miles and 3 hours of swimming later. That’s not far for a lot of open water swimmers, but this is new territory for me – I’m learning as I go. I’ve been swimming a lot and in plenty of open water, but this is taking it to a whole new level for me. However, there’s a point where you just have to take the plunge and give it a shot. That’s what Saturday is. 3 hours, out from shore, under my own power. I’m confident in my training, preparation, and mental preparedness, so I’m very much looking forward to Saturday!
For those of you who worry about my safety – and I know that you do because I get emails about it – you’ll be rest assured to know that I will have a watercraft escort with me for Saturday’s swim. Those of you who know me know that I love going solo and I’m all for adventure, but I’m not all for being stupid. Open Water Swimming can be a dangerous sport and should not, ever, be undertaken alone. Ever.
So, wish me luck, keep me in your thoughts and prayers, and I look forward to a safe and successful swim this weekend!