As mentioned in an earlier post, Cara and I are training for a triathlon with our lovely friend Lori. We’re just about a month away from the big day, so we decided it was time to bite the bullet and go out for our first open water swim. Also noted in that earlier post, was Cara’s an my apprehension toward swimming. Now, don’t get me wrong, we’ve made HUGE strides in the pool, but the operative word here is, “pool”. Swimming in the open water, namely a gator-infested lake, is a whole different story!
Our adventure began Saturday at 7:30am in unseasonably cool weather for April in Florida. We naively rolled up to Lucky’s Lake, the home otherwise known as “Aquatica” where this swim has taken place every Saturday since 1989, in our one-piece bathing suits, goggles and swim caps. And the comfort we initially found in the number of other swimmers quickly diminished when we realized that 90% of our comrades were outfitted in wetsuits. Uhh oh, wetsuits? Of course, Lori “Coach” Gustafson assured us that our lack of insulation made us more hardcore than the other pansies showing up to swim. Being competitive as we are, this was just what Cara and I needed to hear to bolster our confidence. We’re hardcore!
Unfortunately, we were barraged with a slew of warnings from Lucky before we actually entered the water. He made it perfectly clear that the distance was far, the gators were hungry, and worst of all, the cold water would make any first-time swimmer without a wetsuit cramp up and die. Yes, D-I-E, die. Once again, Lori assured us we’d be fine and we slowly waded into the lake with much trepidation.
Now, I’d love to sugar coat this part and tell you that all our fears were washed away the minute we submerged ourselves, but that’d be a very bold lie. Lori, of course, was a champ and made the swim with very little effort. Cara found herself struggling to find a good rhythm in the first half, but, ultimately, finished the 1k swim strong. I, on the other hand, battled that swim way more than I thought I would. I knew it’d be a mental game, what I wasn’t prepared for, however, was the cold. My muscles felt strong, but every time I put my head under water, the cold took my breath away. And let me tell you, feeling like you’re unable to get a full breath while swimming is anything but a confidence-builder. Despite the fact that there were these physical hurdles, I remained mentally calm and just kept swimming. I reached the beach on the other side of the lake, allowed my lungs to warm up a bit and headed back for the opposite shore. Feeling my lung capacity greatly increased, the second half was a totally different swim. I, along with Cara, finally found a rhythm and finished this first open water swim with two big lessons learned: warm up beforehand & try, try again!
Please enjoy (really, enjoy) the photos documenting this little adventure. We’re heading out again this Saturday and welcome any additional company on our Open Water Adventure 2.0!