Sunday, September 4, 2011

Into the great wide open

This weekend, I am in San Diego, getting a nice change of scenery and a much-needed break from the extreme heat of Arizona. This trip was last-minute on my part, as my original Labor Day idea was to spend the weekend in Los Angeles (particularly Six Flags Magic Mountain), but that plan was scrapped.

Geoff Glaser, my husband and co-founder of Dolphins of the Desert Swimming Academy, was going to San Diego to coach a swimmer through a seven-hour swim in San Diego Bay. This was to be a warm-up for a crossing of the Strait of Gibraltar in a couple of weeks. George Bradbury, who is going to attempt this crossing, has done a few Ironman competitions, made the seven-hour swim on Saturday with no problem at all.

I knew we were not going to be able to get to a pool on Saturday, so my only option for swimming yesterday was going to be a swim in the bay. The water was an awesome 70 degrees, and the sun came out at 9:15 a.m., which was 75 minutes into the swim for George. I jumped in and started swimming freestyle with George. My freestyle is faster than George's, so when I got ahead of him, I swam back and circled our escort boat until I found myself behind him. Then, I would do a sprint to catch up to him, swim aerobically for a few minutes and do that again. George took feeding breaks every half hour, and while he got his nutrition from the boat crew (which consisted of Geoff and C.M., George's partner), I took a drink of water from my water bottle to wash out the taste of salt water. While waiting for George to start swimming again, I treaded water, which isn't very difficult in salt water.

I swam for 75 minutes. Estimating that I only stopped swimming for a total of five minutes within those 75 minutes, I figure that I swam about 5,000 meters. What a workout! In the first 15 minutes of my swim, we swam with the tide, which was great for getting acclimated to everything. Then, we reached the end of the recommended space for swimming, and turned around. Swimming against the chop was tough, but the swells weren't very high, so we rarely got those extremely difficult moments. It wasn't conducive to breaststroke swimming, so I only did freestyle.

I'm very happy with my swim in the open water. I never felt fatigued in the swim, and I never got those stomach problems that plague me when I do distance swims in the pool. I think the stomach issues have to do with the flip turns. Although, I did take some Dramamine before the open water swim, mostly to help against motion sickness in the boat.

This is a map of the San Diego Bay. We swam in a channel on the lower right of this map.

When I stopped swimming after 75 minutes, I felt bad knowing George had four and a half hours left. I had thought about swimming for another 30 minutes, but I knew I didn't need to do so. When I got out, I was so hungry that I couldn't stop eating. I ate a turkey and roast beef sandwich, two peaches, three cookies, a tomato, pretzels and more cookies. Yes, I had plenty of water, but I kept peeing clear every 15 minutes or so, so I was aware that I was fully hydrated.

Today Geoff and I planned to find a pool for a workout, but I was tired by noon, after two hours of walking through a farmer's market and a stop at a high-end clothing store. When we got back to the house where we are staying, I desperately needed a nap. A nap meant we might not get a swim in, because the public pool closed at 4. I slept from 2-3 p.m., and felt a little bad that Geoff didn't get to swim. He hadn't had the opportunity to swim, except for the final 30 minutes of George's swim. I don't feel bad about not swimming. Because I swam yesterday in the bay, I was fine with taking a day off. I'm not swimming tomorrow, because I'm driving back to Phoenix. There's no way I'm doing a workout, then driving for almost six hours!

One more thought about the swim on Saturday. I believe that in a former life I was an open water swimmer. I never felt the desire to do flip turns, and only for about two minutes did I worry about the temperature and the creatures living in the water. If I had a different biological make-up, I might actually enjoy doing an open water race or two. But I know I couldn't sustain a racing pace for 10 kilometers!

Have a great Labor Day everyone! I'm back in the pool Tuesday.

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