Two years ago I started swimming with a group of teachers twice a week. The AD/swim coach very patiently coached me from barely being able to swim a hundred yards without needing a rest to a point where I can actually swim for a bit (Thank you Coach B!!!). Since I usually spend quite a bit of my summer break in Hawai'i, during the summer I join up with a Master's Swim group at the local YMCA and also get a lot of coaching from the really nice guys who coach the program, and a lot of encouragement from the great people that swim in the program.
Well, it was a longtime coming, but this morning I actually finished my very first open ocean swim!!! Yay for me!!! I have wanted to do one of the summer ocean races in Hawai'i for a long time now, but fear of drowning made me hesitate for a LONG time! Originally, I planned to do a race a few weeks ago that is a triangle swim in Waimea Bay, but I ended up getting my sinus infection and was in no shape to attempt to swim 1.2 miles in the ocean at that point. Being that the course for this morning's race was longer, at 1.6 miles, and heading in the direction which is typically against the prevailing current, I was quite hesitant to sign up to do this particular swim. At our practices the other swimmers INSISTED that I would be able to do the swim with no problem so I went ahead and sent in my registration.
To make a very long story a little less long, a typhoon off of Japan and a tropical depression Cosme to the South of Hawai'i caused surf forecasts to predict that surf along the course would be 3-5 foot faces. I went to bed on Friday night thinking that I wouldn't even bother driving out to the race site, but when I got up in the morning and checked the surf cams the conditions looked okay so I decided to give it a shot.
I wasn't fast at all, but I didn't drown (which I guess is the main goal when you think about it) and I am thrilled that I actually did it! I finished in 1:15.34–212th out of 279 swimmers and was 12th in the men 40-44 division. The worst part was swimming through the 3-5 foot break to get to the starting line. I seriously thought at that point that I was totally stupid and out of my mind at that point, but once the race started I found a pack of other people who were swimming at my pace and just kept in contact with them the entire way (I really didn't want to feel like I was swimming myself out in the big choppy ocean). Now that I am safely on land, showered, and rested I regret letting that one guy get ahead of me. I swam much of the course just off the hip of another swimmer, but he pulled ahead of me at the finish and ran up the beach just ahead of me. He was another old fart in my age group so I could have gotten 11th had I been a bit more competitive about it all–damn (but then at the time my my legs were feeling like they didn't really want to run …). The guy who was 10th in the division was so far ahead of us that he probably had time to shower, eat oranges, and change into dry clothing so taking him down would have been tough … but I'm gonna get that Santiago guy from Wahiawa next time for sure!!!