Saturday, May 19, 2012

Day 3 of Jamie's Swim Camp

This morning the entire group of swimmers caravaned over to Clearlake.  I was thrilled because I passed up the opportunity to go back to Hidden Valley Lake in the early morning due to the itchies (which I now am informed from another swimmer who left home early, and went to the Dr's and was given a prednisone shot after being told that it was an allergic reaction to some bird parasites).  How much of that is actually true or pure here say is up for debate.  But it's definitely not a fun feeling.  I look like I have chicken pox and feel like I've rolled around in poison ivy.

When we got there we quickly signed waivers and got ready to go.  Apparently there was only one boat so the fast swimmers were supposed to start and the slow swimmers were supposed to get on the boat.  I brought along my Swimming Buddy so I could get a GPS reading and also stash my feeds.  There wasn't much of a debriefing at all as far as the format of the swim so I was very much confused.

Half the people were on the boat and getting their gear together and half were on the dock.  And then Vito's dog was causing a scene and chasing geese, and also jumping in the water following Vito on his swim.  It was quite chaotic to say the least.  But I sensed some frustration from Jamie and he told us all to just get in the water and get going, so I hustled as fast as I could, and got my stupid board assembled and loaded up, but I was already behind and the fast people already had a 100 yard head start on me.  After swimming for about 15 minutes, Jamie pulled up along side and asked if he could stow the board.  I said "Sure".  There goes my GPS data, and my feeds.  I'll just have trust that the support boat will be nearby to offer me my feeds.  

I caught up with Vito, and Cathy and Goody  after swimming side by side with them I pulled ahead a little, but the noticed that Jamie was picking up the back of the pack and then he dropped us off ahead of the pack and told us to continue swimming along shore and around the bend and to stay within 100 yards of shore.  We did that.  We swam and swam and I took a water temp with my watch: 72 degrees.  Still very warm and quite comfortable.  We caught up with Lisa and Lexie.  We all grouped up and Lexie and Lisa said they were hungry and wanted a feed so they swam towards the boat.

Lynn Kubasek, Lisa, Jamie and Andrew having some lunch
Goody, Cathi and I still wanted more so we kept going along the white buoys until we got to the white pier that we agreed upon as our stopping point.  When we got there we noticed that the boat wasn't getting any closer, in fact, it looked smaller than before.  So we decided to head back towards the boat and see what the deal was.  Were we heading back?  Were they waiting for us to return?  We swam towards the boat and noticed it continued to get smaller and smaller.  I couldn't believe it.  They were leaving us.  I was feeling fine.  I wasn't really terribly tired and my watch showed that we were in the water for an hour and a half.  Roughly three miles, minus the short "boost" when we were on the boat to get past the fast swimmers (Jen Schumacher, Steven Munatones, Rob D, and Evan Morrison.

I was actually looking forward to swimming back to the boat ramp, unassisted, and without worrying about whether I'm holding up the group.  I noticed that when I swam about 100 yards I'd look behind me on a breath, and Goody and Cathi were stopped talking.  I stopped and watched, they were chatting, so I swam back to find out what the problem was.  They were pretty annoyed at the thought of being left behind, and I would agree, however, I didn't feel like our lives were in danger and figured worst case scenario, we just swim back to the marina and get the car.  Cathy said she wasn't sure she really should be putting alot more stress on her ankle and was frustrated that she couldn't get in the boat.  Her ankle was giving her trouble and wasn't able to swim much on it.  So I had two decisions at this point.

  1. Leave our little group behind and try to catch up with the group, which at this point, I couldn't even see the boat, and there was no way I could do it.  I'm just not that fast.  
  2. Stay with them and either encourage them to keep swimming or try to find help.  
Renactment of actual event.
I figured it would be a wiser decision to stick together.  I was disappointed as I really wanted to get in a long swim today, so this really put a big damper on the day.  After reasoning with each other and throwing out options, we decided to just swim off to shore and hit the road which was right off the shore and try to hitch a ride back to the marina.  This put me WAY out of my comfort zone.  I was wearing a Rob Aquatics speedo and since I left my car keys on my tire, I would be the one to hitch a ride back and get my car and come back to get them.  So here were were all three of us on the side of the highway, in speedos, trying to stop cars speeding by.  Some people honked their horns and yelled out "Looking good!"  and laughing.  I felt like a total idiot.  After a few minutes, we ended up finding a middle aged hippie couple that were like 'Right on!  We'll get you to your car man!"  So I hopped in back and rode back to my car and drove back to get them.  Goody and Cathy were both a little pissed off to say the least.  

Would you stop or keep going?
On the way back to the marina, we spotted Jamie speeding as fast as he could in the boat back towards where we got out.  There was nobody in the boat so we figured everyone was back at the marina waiting.  We got there and Suzie Dods was the first person to come and sincerely try to see what my condition was. She is such a sweetheart.  I told her I was totally fine.  Rob made me laugh when he said that he really enjoyed the fact that I had to hitch hike in his Rob Aquatics Speedo.  

I honestly was not upset at all.  Actually I was more disappointed than angry.  With Steven in our group and host of the Open Water Safety Conference, I was a little embarrassed, as this situation very well could have been avoided with better planning, and communication.  There was something to learn from this, and while it's inappropriate to point fingers, it is important to actually debrief and come to a conclusion on what could have been done differently to prevent something like that in the future.  A couple of things I would suggest:

  1. Increased communication: I had no idea of the format of the swim, where we were going, how long we were supposed to swim, how often the boat would be by to offer a feeding or a drink.  Who my "buddy" was... etc...
  2. Jen and Jamie enjoy some conversation after lunch.
  3. There should have been at least one more boat.  When you have such a large group (I think it was about 20 swimmers for a 10 person boat), such widely varied swimming speeds, its difficult to maintain visuals on all of them, and nobody was told to "accordion swim".  Just to stay close to shore and keep an eye on the boat and to "wait up" if we were too far from the boat.  But not really how "too far" is.  
If I had my Swimming buddy with me in the first place, I would have had the hydration that Goody and Cathy were so desperate for.  So perhaps that thing wasn't quite the hindrance as it was at first.  

Any way when we got back to the cottage, it was still early in the afternoon and we had a very delicious sandwich and I tried to re-hydrate.  I downed 4 x 16 ounce orange Gatorades.  I was totally exhausted.  Not all from swimming, but from being in the sun so long.  The sun really takes it out of you!

I had some great conversation with Jen Schumacher, Evan Morrison, Cathy.  Lots of subjects, and it really made me think.  I had to say goodbye to Karen who was going home to Truckee, and Suzie who has been such a great person to hang out with.

Goody HATED Vito's "Luigi".  He was quite the
undisciplined problem child eating people's food
and a frustration during the Clearlake swim.  Poor Lynn got
a bruise being pulled into the boat railing trying to contain
him from jumping out of the boat after Vito.  
I was so tired, and still very itchy!  I was hoping to get in at least one more lap for the day, but I was just so tired at the end of the day and feeling itchy that I decided to go to bed instead.  

I know I shouldn't have favorites, but I'd have to say that Lynn Kubasek sure is on my top ten list of favorite people at camp.  She is so upbeat and happy, that is such a great attribute!

Estimated Distance: 4 miles

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