Being born, raised, and living almost my entire life in San Francisco (minus the last 7 months), I’d never swam in the Bay before. When I had first met Evan Morrison in August, he had encouraged me to swim with him and his girlfriend Cathy sometime at the South End Rowing Club. I thought he was nuts at the time. I ended up not swimming with him 2 weekends ago since I forgot to set my alarm AND slept past 6 AM for the first time in a very long time. I was embarrassed when I woke up at realized it was light outside and 22 minutes past the time I was supposed to meet him.
I was back up in the Bay this past weekend and had contacted Evan about swimming with them at SERC. He wasn’t available. I sort of knew Suzie Dods as she’s organizing a 24 Hour Swim Relay in SF Aquatic Park on 8 February and I volunteered to help out with it (any excuse to go home!). On a whim, I contacted Suzie about swimming with her this past weekend. She was available Saturday morning so we made arrangements to swim at the Dolphin Club. I set my alarm immediately for the day so I wouldn’t possibly oversleep!
Saturday morning Suzie was waiting for me outside of the Dolphin Club and I showed up right on time. It was a beautiful sunny day and I was way too excited about being there to finally swim in my beloved Bay. 🙂 🙂 🙂 She gave me a tour of the club and introduced me to several folks. I struck up a conversation with one guy (can’t remember his name) who greeted me with a huge warm hug. We talked about our same philosophy that there are no “change meetings” and that you meet everyone for a reason. He asked me if I was ever interested in The Channel and I said “hell no”. He told me that he had the same attitude once and he successfully swam it one day!
Suzie coached me on how to get prepared for warming up after the swim by putting my towel in the sauna and the process of rinsing off, jump into sauna, and then shower and to NOT warm yourself up in the shower since this wastes water and warms you up too quickly. So we suited up and were off! I followed her lead of slowly getting into the water as this let my body acclimate to the water before starting to swim. It was a slow process at first since I was a bit fearful of how my body would react once I started actually swimming. Finally bit the bullet and it was easy! There was a group from SERC coming back in that we had to dodge around along with watching out for boats that were launching off the docks. We talked with a couple who were dressed up in Egyptian Pharoah and Viking costumes. And they had a *bowling ball* in their boat. Why? I don’t know. It was a real one though. We got to the cove entrance quickly. I waved “hi” to a cyclist in the outlook above us and he said that he thought he was cold until he saw us down in the water. 🙂 We made our way back in since Susie had an Intro class to teach later and we wanted to minimize my time in the water since this was my first time in 50 F water. She told me to sight off of the TransAmerica Pyramid on the way back in. How cool is that?? I was exploding with happiness at this point. 🙂 With all the picture talking and chit chatting, we were in the water for 30 minutes and only swam .5 miles. Before we got out of the water, she told me to not stop and chit chat and to rinse off and go straight into the sauna. She said to lay on my side if I felt dizzy in the sauna. I’m glad that I was with her since I realized WHY you do all this once I stood up on land again and felt the effects of the cold water on my body! I did just as she said. 🙂
I was so excited after my swim that I couldn’t wait to sign up for the Golden Gate Sharkfest so I could swim along and under the Golden Gate Bridge! I signed up for the swim from my phone as soon as I could. 🙂 Yipee!
Suzie wasn’t available to swim on Sunday (yesterday) and hooked me up with some other ladies at SERC to swim with. I thought I had made arrangements with Ranie to swim with her yesterday at 7:30 AM. I got to SERC and no one seemed to be around. I texted Suzie who told me to buzz at SERC and DC which I did to no avail. I noticed a man walking up the ramp at SERC and tackled him. He was suspicious of me until I told him that I knew Suzie and then he relaxed. He let me in and gave me a little tour of the place and told me where I could possibly find Ranie. I went into the locker room (she wasn’t there) and got prepared to swim anyway since Yuri told me that I was still free to swim by myself if I wanted to. I struck up a conversation with a woman named Marie in the locker room. I eventually did find Ranie and she apologized for confusion as she had decided to go on a members’ only swim. Marie offered to let me swim with her even though she’s a slow swimmer. A swim buddy is better than no swim buddy in my book. Off to SF Bay Swim #2! =) Marie is definitely a lot slower than me which proves that there will always be people faster and slower than you. She’s so cool though that I’d swim with her anytime anywhere. She had to head off to work so she passed me off to Kim and another woman. The other woman was taking a shorter route and Kim was going along the edge of the cove around an anchored boat and then back in. Kim asked me how long I wanted to stay in the water and I said “as long as possible!” 🙂 She went into safety mode saying about how I need to do what’s safe, etc. Since I had been in the water the day before and was just find for 30 minutes, I knew that I could handle something a bit longer. I followed her around the boat. I hope she wasn’t too annoyed since I stopped a couple of times just to soak in the view and experience that I was having. Open water for me is more than just getting a workout since I can do that in a pool. Kim told me to go along the buoys to head back in and I followed her. We were in the water for 39 minutes and swam .85 miles.
I followed Suzie’s directions from Saturday and rinsed off, marched straight into the sauna, and camped out there for awhile. I talked with a bunch of other women in there whose names I’ve forgotten now. 😦 I’ll see them later I’m sure as I haven’t forgotten their faces. There was one woman named Rosemary there and we had both been at Jamie’s Swim Camp last August. I have NO memory of her though even though we were there the same days. She said that she didn’t swim with the main group of us and was telling some of the other women who asked what Jamie’s Swim Camp is that it’s more about partying and drinking than about swimming. Okay the swims are just fun swims and this is NOT a training camp nor is Jamie going to be teaching anyone how to swim either. It’s to have fun and socialize and meet other swimmers. This woman kind of seemed to me like she had a negative view of Jamie overall which bothered me a bit. I kept my mouth shut as I didn’t want to get into an argument with her and she’s entitled to her opinion of Jamie being just some “hot shot swimmer who does all these crazy things” (not in a good way). I got the impression from her that she didn’t respect Jamie or took him as a serious swimmer. I have a lot of respect for Jamie and admire him since he is a serious swimmer AND knows how to keep it fun. He can (and I’ve seen him) be dead serious about his sport. He is extremely passionate about swimming and engaging in the swimming community. The other women were all upbeat and happy and I enjoyed talking with all of them in the sauna. I eventually pryed myself away from their company though as I had other things to do. I’ll see them again though. I met another woman (Cathy or Kathy) who said that at the 24 Hour Relay she’s going to do a 1 hour swim every 3 hours which I offered to join her for the 3 PM one which was the only one in her list that I could do so hoping that happens. Along with volunteering to help out at the 24 Hour Relay, I’ve also got a completed SERC Membership Application on my computer now that I filled out Saturday. 😉
I noticed something when it comes to my relationship with open water swimming. I really hate swimming in a pool. That’s just about getting a workout, working on my speed / technique, and “how much longer do I have to be in here?” (I measure my distance not time). When I’m in open water though, I really don’t notice or care about the time or distance. Up until the moment I get in, part of me wants to not do it and once I get in, everything changes. Once I’m in open water, I never want to get out! It’s this strange phenomenon that I can’t quick explain. I don’t feel myself get tired or thirsty or bored. My usual thought is “This is SO cool! I can’t believe I’m actually doing this!!!!” I really just don’t want to stop when I’m in open water. I also want to savor each moment. I can recall how I felt with each open water swim I’ve done and no two have ever been the same. I remember who I was with, what the water felt like, what the temperature was..without actively trying. On Saturday I was on a high the rest of the day. My friend Joyce asked me at 10 PM that night why was I so freakin’ happy (as also I’m usually looking for a place to fall asleep at that hour). I have a drive when it comes to pushing distances in a pool and it’s even stronger when it comes to open water. I did .85 miles in the Bay yesterday. Next time I want to cross the 1 mile mark and then some. At the 24 Hour Relay, I plan on jumping in every so often just to swim a little for fun. I’m *so* excited about that relay though even though I’m just volunteering for it. A couple of the ladies told me that there were still team slots available and I declined since I know Suzie needed volunteers too and I had committed to that. They thanked me several times for assisting them! 🙂 I’m just excited to be a part of that. I can’t wait!