Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Open Water!

For all my complaining about my slow swimming, I do truly enjoy it -- mainly the open water experiences. I am grateful for all the gorgeous places triathlon has allowed me to swim!

When I look out before a race, I have a nervous feeling as I point to the buoys in turn and think, "am I really going to swim from there to there to there...?" As I stand at a new swim site, the water is a stranger. After I swim in it once, there is a familiarity, an ease. I get to know the water and it's fun to return and swim in it again.

Every body of water is unique - by color, feel, and yes, taste. There's sandy bottoms, foot-sucking muck, big weed beds, cute fish, big fish, algae, debris, chop, current, salt, piers, docks....

Prior to the sport, "swimming" was confined mainly to playing in the waves at the ocean and wading through waist-deep rivers but I didn't really swim to go from point A to point B. Now I get to explore new waters, swimming some distance and going someplace!

Here are some of the amazing places I've been swimming:

Lake Norman, NC (2009)
first open water swim in a race!
Lake Arrowhead (Luray, VA, 2010-11)
Lake Champlain, Burlington, VT (2011)
James River, Jamestown, VA (2011)
Smith Mountain Lake, Moneta, VA (2010-12)
Lake Moomau, Warm Springs, VA (2010-12)
Lake Anna, Bumpass, VA (2011)
Potomac River, Colonial Beach, VA (2012)
    And I've had practice swims in nearby Claytor Lake and the New River.

    New River

    These aren't open water, but somewhat notable. I swam in a rooftop pool in San Diego and then also on a whim did a 1-hour continuous swim in a resort-style pool in Phoenix just to prove to myself that I didn't need lane lines and that I could survive the tedium of a tiny pool (of course I did!)

    San Diego (2011)
    Phoenix (2011)

    I also swam in one small lake in North Carolina where I was pulled out by two Park Rangers and questioned at length for swimming illegally. Ooops.

    Before nearly getting busted in
    unknown "No Swimming" Lake in NC (2009)

    I swam in the Atlantic Ocean, briefly, just past the breakers, and that DID and still does terrify me because I was sure something would eat me.

    There is something uniquely empowering about swimming in a big untamed body of water. I was not a swimmer prior to the sport and I did not grow up near water so I find it highly exciting and rewarding.

    If you shy away from triathlon or open water swims, I just want to share that with a bit of help (and a good pair of goggles!) anyone can learn to swim and enjoy the freedom of open water. There's nothing quite like it, whatever your swim speed :-)