Swim For Life, Literally.

by | Aug 18, 2010 | Health | 3 comments

So. We have had great weather here in the PNW this past week. Perfect timing for, say, the Swim for Life — a 2.5 mile swim across Lake Washington. The funds raised (at last count $43,000) will go to the Bone Marrow Registry!

When I went to bed Tuesday night, it was hot. It was clear. When I awoke 6.75 hours later… it was windy. It was cold. I looked out the window and said, “FA REALZ, WEATHER?!”

Fa. Realz.

At 6:10 in the a.m., my friend Chris and I headed to Medina beach to meet our team – The Freshwater Jellyfish:

team freshwater jellyfish

As we drove across the 520 – we saw what was ahead – choppy water… waves, on a lake, with white caps. WHITE CAPS? White caps.

Also, fa realz… yo.

It was cold on that beach. 60 degrees and 20 mph winds. Sheesh. But the water was 70 degrees, so it was warmer in the water. Gloray.

We had a last-minute add to our team. We headed out into the lake with 5 swimmers and a kayaker. There was a range of speeds so, what we guesstimate to be 1/3 of the way through… we teamed with another team and balanced out the speeds a little… which provided less of a sense of urgency for those who were not as speedy, and a little less time treading water in aggressive lake waves for the others. Now, I pride myself in my highly efficient treading skillz, but the waves…

But the bigger problem with the little delay for me was… carpel tunnel. Which only manifests itself during pregnancy, long bike rides and long swims. So, the last 2/3 of the swim, my left hand FELT as though it weight 43 pounds and looked like this:

swimmer with carpal tunnel

But it really looked like this…

swimmingWhere’s the sun?! And this picture does not represent the waves… At. All. #belieeedat

Then there were the waves. I was able to find a good momentum with the rise and fall of the 2 to 3 foot waves, but every-so-often… one would come and smack my hand into submission or sneek up in the middle of a breath.


When we joined with the other team, 2 guys stayed at their pace with one kayaker, which left 7 of us with the other. That poor kayaker girl. I think herding cats or 3 year olds might have been less stressful. Think about it – KAYAKING in that water… making sure you have your eyes on 7 swimmers, and being the key-direction point for those of us who couldn’t see above the constant waves. Our group was EVERYWHERE. And being a mom… I felt the need to keep stopping to make sure no one had DROWNED, and whathaveyou.

At more than one point, I could not see any other green caps. In those moments my mind turns on me. Suddenly, it is possible monsters live in lakes, or a earth-opening earthquake will happen… or I find I have to convince myself that no one planted a bomb at the bottom of the lake that would be set off right as I was stroking over. Freshwater, mega-octopii. Woman-eating guppies. Milfoil-turned-Venus-fly-trap plants emerging from the darkest depths…

Yet. I am here. I got an email from the organizers tonight. It was comforting to me. I began to think I blew the who “Monster, white-capped waves, choppy water” thing out of proportion. But it wasn’t all in my head:

In the middle of the night, five hours before the start of this year’s swim, the floating dock at Medina was rocking so violently in 40 mph wind that its two ends alternated being completely … submerged. Not surprisingly, even though the wind had abated a bit by 7:30 AM, we still had our choppiest swim in 13 years and had more swimmers than usual requesting to get pulled from the water.

We took a speed boat back across the lake to our car. Waves splashed in from the sides, over the front, and the “speed” part of the boat was not engaged… When we arrived at the dock, the driver got a call to pick-up more swimmers. His reply, “No way. We’re not going back across THAT lake.”

Yeah, so… my takeaway? I am a lot like a motor boat.

Wait. Uh. Oh never mind.


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