30 April 2007

We Made It Happen!

Alice, Heather and I met boat captain Andy at the dock at Mission Bay in San Diego at 7 a.m. It was foggy, but the air was warm. I knew that this swim would be beautiful. I'd be out in the ocean, with my English Channel crew on board in the warm waters off of San Diego. We loaded up the boat and Andy drove it slowly out of the bay and into the ocean. Once we got to the ocean, we picked up the speed and Andy put the boat in neutral about a half mile of shore. He looked at me and asked me if I was ready to jump. Just about as soon as I reached for my cap and goggles, we all smelled the smoke coming from the engine. Alice and I got out of the way and I scrambled up to the front of the boat. Andy grabbed the fire extinguisher and Heather helped lift the cover off of the engine. I had stripped down to my swim suit and was prepared to swim to shore from the burning boat. I knew the gas tank was full and that there was a full extra tank of gas near the engine. Andy got on the radio and called for help "Vessel in distress!". I was one second away from jumping in the water when Andy said that he thought he got the fire out. Two guys out fishing stopped and lent us their extinguisher. Heather called her friend Brian on her cell phone. He works for the San Diego County beach lifeguards and would be able to send someone out. It seemed as if no one at headquarters had heard our call for help. We heard Heather's end of the conversation: "Our boat is on fire...no, I am not kidding". Brian called lifeguard headquarters and within 2 minutes a Baywatch style rescue boat was in sight. Alice, Heather and I climbed on to the rescue boat and rode back to the dock towing Andy and his broken down boat behind us.

We had no boat, but we still had a 6 hour swim to complete. I didn't go all the way down to San Diego to give up just because we didn't have a boat. We put our heads together and came up with the following plan: We would rent a 2 person kayak for Alice and Heather and Brian would lend Andy his paddle board. We would do 6 hours in the ocean off of La Jolla Shores. I'd swam there before and liked it.

We had all packed as if the crew would be on a boat all day. No one had clothing for kayaking and we didn't even have enough bottles for my feeding supplies because we had planned on refilling them from a larger bottle on the boat. We filled every container we had, bought some dry bags and headed to the beach.

We left the dock at Mission Bay at 9:30, we were on the water in La Jolla at 10:45. It would be a long day of swimming and it wasn't going to be perfect, but I was going to get my 6 hours in.

I felt great for the first three hours. The water temperature was perfect (60 F), the water was clear and relatively calm. Around 4 hours I started to get a little tired, but I still swam on. After 4 and a half hours I was tired, but just kept swimming. At 5 hours, Alice jumped in with me and swam the last hour. It was great to have her by my side after swimming alone for 5 hours. I imagined us swimming side by side in the cove in San Francisco as we have done for many years together. I remained in good spirits and was cracking jokes with the crew until the very end.

I felt fine walking up on the beach and just barely started to shiver during the time Heather and Andy went to get the cars. I even made friends on the beach with another woman who had done a 9 mile swim that morning. We showered at Heather's and met back up with Andy and a few of Heather's friends at a nearby sushi restaurant. I slept OK that night and felt stiff in the morning. The more I moved around during the day, the better I felt. Today (Monday) I felt completely recovered.

THANK YOU to Heather, Alice and Andy for making this swim happen despite the early morning set back. As two of my students told me this morning after I recounted the story of the accidental kayakers: "Those are some good friends!".

THANK YOU to Brian for lending us the paddle board to use. It was helpful to have another pilot out there and it saved Alice's back!

THANK YOU to the fishermen who initially helped us and to the San Diego County Lifeguards who brought us into shore.

You can also check out Alice's photos which include the boat incident and the rescue: http://www.flickr.com/photos/aywong/sets/72157600158796788/

28 April 2007

I came, I swam, I QUALIFIED!

Today I completed my English Channel qualifying swim by swimming for 6 hours and 53 seconds in 60 degree water. It really is much more exciting than that. Our boat caught fire and so we headed to La Jolla Shores to rent a two person kayak for Alice and Heather to paddle. I'm tired now and we are about to head to dinner...I'll include more details and photos later.

26 April 2007

Tropical San Diego Water

After enduring the longest and coldest winter in the bay in the past 10 years, I am heading to San Diego tomorrow and will be completing my 6 hour qualifying swim on Saturday in the ocean off of La Jolla. Expected water temperature is 60 degrees Farenheit.

The bay is still a chilly 52 and hasn't consistently been above 53 since November 30th. The absolute low point was 46 degrees on January 17th and 18th. If you want a better description, read my blog from those days.

Currently there is a whale in the bay and one of our very own South Enders swimming from the Bay Bridge to the club got close enough to it on Sunday to see the barnicles on it's back.

I'm ready to get out of here and head towards some more tropical water.

SWF seeks Boat

If anyone has a boat in the S.F. bay and wants to help me with an incredible swim please e-mail me ASAP!

14 April 2007

Times When I Think I'm Crazy

There have been two instances during my training when I think to myself that I must be crazy to do what I am doing.

1.) When I was walking barefoot across the icy South End deck to get in the 48 degree water in the dark in January at 6 a.m.

2.) Today when I was swimming through the swell in the pouring rain against a 2.2 flood tide in 53 degree water.

My goal was to swim for 3 hours today. Last night the water felt alright (about 54) but this morning it felt much colder, I think it was a low 53. I jumped at 7 with Nigel, did a cove and kept swimming waiting for Nigel to come back out and meet me in the kayak. We headed East inside the breakwater, made a sharp left around the end of the breakwater and headed West. That is when it really started pouring, and continued to do so for about the next hour. I got really cold at about 2 hours. I told Nigel I didn't feel well and I wanted him to stay close to me. I told myself to calm down and just keep swimming. At that point we had turned around near Gas House Cove and were headed back to the cove. I wanted to get back to the cove as fast as possible, but swimming out into the bay to catch the tide seemed so daunting. I felt nauseous and warm and cold at the same time. I felt light headed and couldn't imagine swimming for another hour. I only felt this way for about 5 minutes and once I calmed myself down I felt much better and knew that I could make it to 3 hours. Nigel was calm and supportive the entire time which made the situation much more bearable. Once we got back to the cove, Alice swam towards me and we did the last half an hour together. A soaked Nigel headed in to the beach with the kayak and I finished my swim in the cove with Alice.

Thank you to Nigel for kayaking in the pouring rain.

Thank you to Alice for finishing the swim with me.

I am now ready for a nap.

07 April 2007

Bay Bridge-Anita Rock-Yacht Harbor

This morning under foggy skies 15 sunrisers and I jumped at the Bay Bridge. Alice, Michelle and I missed the boat (no pun intented) and got a ride from our swim commissioner to the start. However, getting in the water from the Embarcadero involved a climb down algae covered steps and sliding into the water getting scraped along the way by barnacles. Alice and I swam stroke for stroke for the 56 minutes it took up to get back to the opening to the cove. Along the way we encounted a large red ship and a ferry that sped between us and the rest of the swimmers.

At the opening, Joe Butler (in a zodiac) and I continued with the ebb tide towards the Golden Gate Bridge. We found ourselves almost amongst the start of a regatta and then right next to a capsized sailboat from the day before. We didn't see the baby gray whale that was sighed off of Chrissy Field on Thursday.

I wanted to stay in the water for 2 hours today. The temperuature is still just a brisk 53 degrees. I swam towards Anita Rock (a shipping channel marker just West of Chrissy Field) and rounded it to start back swimming against the ebb tide. The sky was gray, the same color as the water and it was starting to drizzle.

From the water I saw kids playing on the beach in front of Chrissy Field. I thought "what are those kids doing playing on the beach on a day like this?". Then I remembered what I was doing and thought that they might be thinking the same thing.

It was difficult to make progress against the 2.25 ebb, but I made it back to the St. Francis Yacht Harbor and Joe pulled me out of the water out of 2 hours and 10 minutes of swimming. I was alright and didn't start shivering until just before we docked the zodiac at the club. I didn't feel too bad, but was looking forward to a long shower and sauna.

Thank you to Bill Wygant for getting me to the start. Thanks to all of the pilots for keeping us safe on a busy day in the bay. And to Joe Butler for staying out in the cold and missing the club breaksfast to help me get more milage in.

04 April 2007

Spring Break Fun at the Pool

Today I figured out how to upload vidoes from YouTube to my blog. These videos were taken by Traci today after the noon practice with Burlingame Aquatics masters swim team.