Yesterday I had a day off training. I really needed it because my body hadn’t even recovered from a strength session five days earlier. A long time ago though I decided that I would be swimming six days a week. Sometimes my swimming in the early days was barely more than getting in the water and blowing bubbles but time has passed and yesterday (Friday 17 November 2017) I did something different.
I live right next to the Derwent estuary in Claremont and I have easy access enabling me to walk, wearing my wetsuit, straight into the water. The water is murky and visibility is never more than a meter on a sunny day. The water is cool and the tidal flow is something that has to be watched for. If you haven’t tried it, you can imagine that it is a fair training ground to help get over open water fear. I have had a lot of fear but by getting into the water six times a week, the fear is gradually disappearing and my swimming is actually getting better albeit, slowly.
So, yesterday I knew I needed to have a day off training but I also wanted to continue swimming and it was a beautiful sunny warm day. It was so warm I didn’t even wear gloves although I continued to wear boots because the shoreline where I go into the water is rocky, weedy, and has occasional sharp, slippery rocks and old shellfish shells. For a long time, I have wondered about swimming across the small cove nearby that boating traffic avoids and it also has little tidal movement. At the time I went in yesterday, there appeared to be zero tidal movement and very little wind.
As I set out I headed straight across the cove. After about 100 meters approximately I stopped to catch my breath and relieve some anxiety tightness in my chest. I lay on my back totally supported by the wetsuit and gazed up at the sky. You know how blue the sky is here in Hobart and I can’t be all poetic so you just have to remember. And there were just enough fluffy bits of white/grey cloud to accentuate the sky’s colour. The first time I did this I probably only lay there for a minute but the second, third, and fourth time the time just got longer each time. After about 20 minutes of stop and start swimming I reached the other side where I crawled up and sat on some rocks, looking back at where I came from. My Garmin told me I had travelled just over 500 meters. You might imagine how pleased I was with myself. As I looked on I noticed the wind was picking up so I figured I had better get to work and swim back.
It was a bit of a buzz swimming into a head wind because it felt like I was swimming fast even though I was taking it really easy. I knew that the last thing I needed to do was try to push myself and end up taking on water which would probably lead me straight into a degree of panic. I tried to keep going but it didn’t seem long and once again I needed to roll on my back for a rest. It was about this time that I wondered if what I was doing was dangerous. My conclusion was that no, it was not dangerous. If I took too long to swim the distance remaining, I would get cold and that was the worst danger I had. After that little discussion with myself I started to enjoy the journey once more. I took about two more rests on the way home but kept a little bit of sculling going during the rest stops so I didn’t lose distance to the wind and waves.
It was a great day off training because I swam just over one kilometre in open water and I now have these beautiful lines on a Training Peaks map to prove where I went. If I kept up that rate of swimming I could do a 3.8 kilometre Iron Man swim in about two hours.