Lynne Cox Is A Badass & 24 Hour SF Bay Swim Relay Recap

I just finished reading “Swimming to Antartica” by Lynne Cox and can’t remember the last time a book gripped my attention so much. I kept wanting to know what happened next and love her style of writing. It made me think about my own swimming too as I engage more with swimming in 50F water. What I learned from her:

  • long hair is a GOOD thing for cold water swimming (added insulation and explains why I’ve never felt cold on my head while swimming)
  • if you can keep your fingers together then you’ve still got good motor function and a healthy brain
  • pink limbs mean your body is doing its job
  • why you don’t want to warm up too quickly afterwards (cold blood should NOT rush into your core as it’ll shock your body)
  • conserve energy as you definitely may need it later when currents / weather change
  • even Lynne Cox gets in the water thinking “WTF am I doing here?” 🙂

And honestly, every time I swim through kelp now, I have to push past the image of Lynne Cox on her Cape Of Good Hope swim where a 12-foot bronzer whale shark shot out of kelp hell bent on eating her.

I never knew just how deeply she wanted to swim the Bering Strait to foster communication and understanding between the Soviets and Americans and how much influence she had on Gobachev! Whereas people these days know who Diana Nyad is who has done NOTHING for bringing people together, Cox went barely noticed to get two superpowers to talk to each other. It saddens me that she got such little support from corporate America and our government when she was doing something very powerful that most people wouldn’t even try. She’s the ultimate example of someone determined to accomplish her goals with or without your support.

Tom and I worked on my stroke during Masters practice last Saturday which he pointed out that my left arm was sliding over the midline when I was breathing so he made me do a drill while holding onto a kickboard to get used to the feeling of my left arm staying put. He said to do that drill whenever my left arm starts going over again. I asked him how would I know if it’s moving and he said that he’d tell me (should have known). We managed to knock off up to 5 more seconds on my 50 m split time! 🙂 I noticed by the end of practice that my stroke felt smoother and my hips felt really light as they glided through the water. It seems like I have definitely made improvements in my stroke the last few weeks and going back to doing intervals. Now to just keep it up. 🙂

Pretty sure I’m addicted to swimming in the Bay at o’dark thirty with friends now.

I think I’m falling in love with swimming at the South End Rowing Club. Especially in the middle of the night. I really love swimming in the Bay and almost everyone that I’ve met there has just been friendly and inviting! The 24 Hour Relay was a great experience.

The classic part happened immediately though as Suzie asked if I could do kayak support. I got into a kayak and was launched without my paddle into a wave. The guys threw my paddle which landed in the water. As I went to grab it, the kayak was already turning parallel to the next wave which just flipped the kayak over. I took it as a sign that I was not meant to kayak that day. (btw it took 20 hours for my jeans to dry in the sauna!)

I did two swims in the Bay, although I wish I could have done one more. The weather on Saturday night was horrible though so I opted to stay high and dry instead. Classic winter rain in SF which made me feel like I was home and loved every minute of it. I didn’t even use my umbrella as my Masters hat and raincoat were all that I needed.

Madhuri swimming fly!

I got to swim with Madhuri Yechuri who I had met a couple of weeks ago. She was part of a relay team and I just swam with her for fun. She was afraid to go to the cove opening and I offered to swim with her for support if she wanted. She welcomed it and said that she’s really slow though. We started and she is slow but she’s also doing FLY the entire time. I would swim ahead of her and take some photos of her and whatnot then continue on. We got to where you would turn for the cove opening and I asked her if she wanted to keep going. She said she didn’t want to go to the opening and wanted to go to one of the boats docked in the water. Okay, no problem and I’d continue with her. We got to the boat and she turned to go back in. I wanted to go to the opening from there.

The current changed though and I experienced what Lynne Cox talked about of people who cross The Channel and get within a mile of France and CAN’T FINISH. I swam for several minutes and then re-assesed my position to discover that I had NOT swam any further to the cove entrance. WTF?? The current was going in the wrong direction and nothing I could do was helping me. I finally turned around defeated and made my way back in. *grumble* I can only imagine how disappointing it must be for Channel swimmers who put in all that effort and time and then can’t finish when they can see the end right there!

Roxie trading off with Madhuri in their relay team.

It took me forever to fall asleep Saturday night and I woke up at about 1:50 AM and couldn’t fall back asleep. I decided to get up instead and see what was going on with the relay. Madhuri was up and swimming at about 3:30 AM. She twisted my arm to join her (aka “Want to swim?”). I quickly changed and jumped in the water with her. It was really cool swimming in the semi-dark with really the lights of Ghiradelli Square being the only light. Unfortunately the rain clouds were too heavy and my Garmin couldn’t connect so I don’t have any data from the swim. 😦 She was swimming a shorter distance around the buoy line so I’d swim a buoy farther than her and try and maintain the same general area as her the rest of the time (involving a lot of stopping on my part). I really didn’t care though as it was just fun to swim with her in the semi-dark. I noticed too that my lips weren’t as frozen / swollen as they normally were which meant that my body was getting used to the water temperature. I came back in when Madhuri said she was tired and ready to go back in.

Suzie was at the dock and I asked her if she needed me to help out on the dock. She said no and to go inside and warm up. I asked her again for helping with anything while in the sauna a short while later and she said it’d be great if I did kayak support. I put on a wetsuit she was going to get in herself and threw what other clothes I could and joined her back out on the beach. This time I actually made it off of the beach and was on my way. It was really cool to watch the other swimmers out there going back and forth in the stillness of the night. I paddled back and forth keeping eyes on them. Another kayaker joined me and we were called in after daybreak started. I didn’t realize until we were in the locker room that two hours had passed by!

Unfortunately I discovered afterwards that I had a bad blister that already popped on my left thumb. It hurts like hell when water runs across it. Hoping it starts hurting less SOON so I can get back in the water ASAP.

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