Open Water Redemption

In an effort to de-stress, relax and catch up with friends, I went on vacation last week before starting what is surely going to be a brutal semester. Seeing friends and family, laying on the beach, grilling and drinking good beer were surely highlights of the trip and just what the doctor ordered.  I brought some workout clothes but planned on taking it easy since my body had been feeling so beat up. The person with whom I was staying got me hooked in with the local tri club and on Friday I joined them for an open water swim. You may or may not remember my last open water swim: the disastrous Pittsburgh triathlon. Honestly, I wasn’t too worried about this open water swim but every once in a while I’d have a flash of worry: what if something similar happened again?

The triathletes that I met before we started were fantastic. In particular I befriended Theo, an ultra runner who seemed anxious about getting in the water since it had been a few years. We headed to the water which was idyllic. The air temp was a balmy 90+ degrees so the 71 degree water felt perfect. Swimmers told me to keep an eye out for mating sharks and rays. Snorkelers were checking out fish. The sun was starting to set behind the rocks. I couldn’t imagine anything more perfect.

It was really beautiful! I really got to swim here!!

I start to swim and head out to the ¼ mile buoy. I hear the seals on the beach and I see bright fish darting around. The buildings on the sides of the hills are gorgeous. I can’t believe this counts as a workout! Why doesn’t everyone do this all the time?! We continue on to the half mile buoy and I feel great so I consider heading out for two miles instead of one, but I didn’t want to keep my friend waiting while I finished up. As we head back towards the ¼ mile buoy, every time I look up to sight, Theo is right next to me reassuring me that we’re on course. I couldn’t believe how attentive he was and I couldn’t appreciate more that he swam with me. I later learned that he busied himself during his swim looking up for swimmers ahead and back for swimmers behind. I can’t begin to comment on how nice it was to have a friend in the middle of the ocean!

I get back to the ¼ mile buoy and an Ironman comments on what a perfect day it is. I honestly can’t imagine anything better and I respond that it is much better than the Alleghany River. Of course Ironman’s friend is a Steelers fan and in the middle of the ocean we start to talk football. I LOVE it!! We finish up the swim and I felt so refreshed and I was trying not to beam ear to ear because I felt dumb for being so happy over something so simple. But it was wonderful. I could have swam the two miles for a better workout, but I finished in time to start to watch the sun set.

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The sunset was incredible. This picture doesn’t do it justice. The sun’s reflection made the water a crystalline blue and the pinks and reds were vibrant.

This swim afforded me the opportunity to play in a beautiful place on a beautiful day, chat with incredibly kind people and regain my confidence in my open water swimming ability which is huge since I want to tackle more triathlons. One quote that I love for training is “I do today what you won’t, so tomorrow I do what you can’t.” My long boring swims in the cold pool at school aren’t always rewarding, but because I put in the hard work in Pittsburgh, I could enjoy a beautiful swim on vacation and days like this make it all worth it.

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