It’s been hanging over my head all week. Ever since getting to the cabin I’ve been peering out at the lake knowing I was going to have to tackle it. I needed to do an open water swim. But I was also nervous. It didn’t help that my son, Erik, and his girlfriend, Katie, who I consider to be hardy youth, reported that the lake was “really cold” and declined to swim.
First the wind and the waves provided an excuse. Too wavy to swim. Too cold. Too cloudy. (Too scared, really.) But then came a relatively calm and sunny afternoon. I knew my options were dwindling, screwed up my courage and recruited Rich to come out in the kayak as my safety boat. Too late to back out now – I had to do it.
Surprisingly, the water was quite swimmable. It was brisk to be sure, but I’ve suffered worse in that lake. It felt strange to be wearing a swim cap and goggles – something I never do in the lake – and I tried to ignore the now-visible weeds as I passed over them. It’s really better not knowing.
At first it seemed like the distance was insurmountable. I needed to do .93 miles to mimic the triathlon distance. I had thought that swimming to the campground beach and back would be enough, but it turned out I needed to swim even beyond that. Not a good feeling. But as I fell into the rhythm of my strokes and relied on my long distance lap swimming, I felt as though I could manage it.
Staying on course was tricky, and I had to figure out how to lift my head to peer out and spot my destination up ahead. It definitely was a disruption to the cadences of my swimming. I’m sure there are tricks to doing it more efficiently. In addition, I already knew that I had a tendency to drift left when I swim. Rich tried to counter that by yelling “Point!” to try and curb my corkscrew curves. I do so hope they have some bright bouys in the race to help keep me in line.
The waves proved to be a challenge, as I expected. I was swimming into a mild quartering headwind on the way out, with the waves hitting my breathing side. I know I should be able to breath equally well on both sides, but I’ve never pursued that. Now I get why it’s important. But I survived. And turning around to swim with the waves was sweet!
My biggest fear was succumbing to the cold of the water, getting too chilled to swim effectively. But even with my skinny body, I was able to retain enough body heat to swim comfortably. The whole way. Yea! If I could handle North Star Lake’s cold, I should have no problem in Lake Nokomis.
Completing that swim was a huge boost to my confidence. I now know I can do it. I was even more pleased to learn that it was only 5 minutes over my pace in the pool – not bad for all the extra obstacles I figure. Of course, I was all alone out there. No other swimming bodies to dodge or churning water to navigate. I will leave that for race day. At least I’ve conquered the open water.