Saturday, June 28, 2008

Dang, that water is COLD! (by Clara)

My father and I began the day at 5:30 am. Mallory and her father began an hour earlier, since they needed a shuttle to get to the T (Boston subway) from their hotel, and required 2 train changes before getting on the red line to get to Quincy. Our hotel is about 200 yards away from the JFK/UMass station on the red line, so it was a little easier for us. After a slight freak-out when the Au Bon Pain in our hotel, which was supposed to open at 6 am, wasn't open when we got there at 6:03 (it opened just after), we were on our way. Mallory had had trouble finding lanolin to make channel grease, and I had had trouble finding cheap ratty towels to use while all greased up, so as not to foul up Billy's boat, so we stopped at a CVS on the way to the marina. We got there at 6:40, and it didn't open until 7, so we had a second experience of arriving too early and waiting around for opening time.

We did manage to find some lanolin and vaseline to make the grease, as well as some $4 towels which didn't really absorb much water at all. After taking some bathroom breaks and preparing the grease, we were on our way at about 8 am.

Once again, Mallory proved herself to be the bringer of freak weather. In terms of swimming conditions, it was an improvement over the last time we came to Boston, but still. (Point of clarification: Mallory is at fault for all the weird weather we have encountered, and not me, because when I did Alcatraz when I was 14 - ostensibly my first training swim for the channel - the normally fierce current was calm, the waves were few, and the water temperature was several degrees higher than normal. Hence: blame Mallory.) Anyway, this round of freak weather was oddly cold and cloudy: weather that our boater, Billy Harrow, assured us was most usual in March, not the end of June. But, on the bright side, the water was nice and smooth all day. When we first looked up the weather, they were predicting T-storms (or T-showers... are those like T-storms lite?), but I think the largest waves were maybe a foot. Maybe.

Anyway, the day turned out to be quite a bit of an adventure. Since Mallory was swimming a little faster than me, she would swim out a ways, then turn around and swim back, and then turn around again, etc. No one was keeping track of mileage, but considering that I swam just over 8 miles in just under 4 hours with really crap weather, so I'm guessing we were somewhere between 2.0 and 2.5 mph during the swim (probably closer to 2.5 mph for Mal, and maybe like 2.2 for me). About an hour and a half in, Mallory started to have some real issues with the cold. We went inland a bit to find slightly warmer water, as we think the water we started out in was something like 58 degrees, and she managed to eventually get over it and keep swimming. So, on the list for additional preparations for Mal: 1) Consume lots of calories and gain 5 or 10 pounds, 2) No more hot showers, 3) Ice baths and swims in Lake Michigan.

My problem of the day was having shoulder pain, and a little stomach issue from eating too much solid food (bananas... I couldn't bring myself to eat the Gu packets we bought... the texture is just too gross). My dad had some Advil, so I took a bunch of that and dissolved some more in my tea. As for the stomach issue, I just had to tough that out.

By far the most interesting adventure of the day, however, involved Mallory's $20 grab bag swim suit she purchased specifically for our qual swim. It was one of those Finis suits that has rubber straps - kind of like goggle straps. She liked it pretty well for a while, but its weakness was revealed when she tried to wear it with channel grease smeared all over her body. It actually worked out fine for several hours, but eventually the grease managed to work its way into the buckle that held one of her straps on, and the rubber strap slid right out. I managed to get the strap back through the loop that held it to her suit, but there was no way it was going to go back through the buckle, or get tied in a knot, as covered in grease as it was. Luckily, Mallory had brought an extra suit, so she got back in the boat for a few minutes, had both our fathers and Billy face the front of the boat, and changed out.

The swim definitely turned out to be a good learning experience, and I'm pretty glad that it's required. It was definitely good to find out what we did now, instead of when already in England. Now for some photos:

On the boat before the swim

Greasing up

I got in first

Mallory's turn

First feeding stop, 30 minutes in

Billy getting the grease off the boat while we were getting the grease off ourselves

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