Open Water Swim

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Crap, I’m going to be late, I think to myself. Tapping my fingers and listening to my audiobook doesn’t make the traffic go any faster. Orange barrels dot the side of Interstate 15 as they do every summer. I just don’t understand how this road needs construction every freaking year. I’ve been making this 25 mile drive to and from work every day for seven years and every year there is road construction.

“I might be a little late,” I text Jeff.  I drop all my stuff onto my kitchen counter. The dogs dance between my feet as I try to remember everything I need to take for my first open water swim.

I open the door and they propel their bodies on their three-inch legs around the corner of the house along their well-worn trail in the grass, streaks of black and apricot fur and flapping ears.

Trisuit, check.

Goggles, check.

Swim cap, check.

Flip-flops, check.

Clothes to change into after the swim, check.

I think that’s it. One third of a cup of dog food is trickled into each little bowl. The screen door rattles as Ignacious jumps on it. “Hey mom let us in.” Annabelle yips and then sets her tail wagging causing a rippling effect all through her miniature body.

I hate to leave them right after I get home. It breaks my heart. They’ve been waiting for me all day.

“I’m sorry guys. I have to get this swim in before the race,” I said looking from Ignacious’s emerald green eyes to Annabelle’s golden brown ones.

Jeff, Mike, and I drive up to Pine View Reservoir, Jeff voicing his concerns about the swim, and me silently contemplating mine. We park at the dock. Putting on the wetsuit was not as bad as I had made my think it would be. I’ve totally got this, I think to myself. The swim of the triathlon has me nervous and has been a major obstacle to me registering for any tri. I feel crowded in a lane with one other person. At the tri, I’ll have to get in with two hundred other people around me, kicking and circling arms.

With flip-flops thwacking my heels, I walk down to the edge of the water. I feel like a whale in my borrowed wetsuit. It is a size too big for me, which means that water will be getting inside. Mike points to a white buoy out past an island.

“I think if we swim out there and back it should be about a mile,” he says. It looks really far away.

“That one way out there?” Jeff asks. He’s as nervous as I am. Breathing deep, I slip my foot into the luke warm water my toes seeking the rocks I know are going to be on the bottom of the lake. Soft sand wraps around them instead. I take a few steps feeling with my feet. I find the rocks, and then I find the edge where the earth drops away.

I glance back at Jeff who is getting in with as much trepidation as I am. I grin at him, crouch, and reach out with my right arm gliding along the surface of the water.

Art told me I would float with a wetsuit, but wholly crap I’m like a rubber ducky!

I stretch my left arm out and put my face into the water. One, two, three breathe. One, two, three breathe. I catch my arms dropping too early and try to hold it up, but my body is rolling to each side more than usual. My arm drops to try to balance me out.

Slow and steady, get your body under control, I tell myself. I relax and fly through the gentle waves. Rolling to my back I check to where Jeff and Mike are, I’m not waiting. Rolling back over, I stroke toward the bouncing buoy.

Every so often, I pull my head up out of the sienna colored water and lock onto the buoy. Once I reach it, I turn around and roll onto my back. Clumps of white cotton lie scattered in the sky as it does on my living room floor after the dogs have gotten a new stuffed toy.

The shore rises to meet me much sooner than I wanted. I stand up and water runs down my legs. Jeff and Mike are starting back toward shore from the buoy. Waiting for them to come back in is not my idea of fun, so I get back into the water and swim out to them.

Once we are all three on shore, we go up to the truck for some watermelon and water.

“We ought to swim out to the point on the island and back just to practice a little more,” Mike suggests.

The sun is setting behind the mountains when we reach the small island, as it dips below the peaks we slip back into the darkening water and race back to the mainland.

The swim was a huge boost to my confidence. My own wetsuit arrived today, and I’m going to try it out on Saturday. The gentle rolling waves is calling to me…

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