Posted by: Karen | July 25, 2009

Open Water Swim

Miquelon Lake, once you venture beyond the sandy beach edge of the swimming bay, has plenty of soft, squishy mud on the bottom. It’s somewhat saline and tastes kind of sour. There are no fish, no weeds, and there is nothing to see but icky algae-like floaty-balls and the occasional half-buried beer can.

I suppose that’s better than having jelly fish, sharks, rip tides or sea monsters.

I have borrowed my friend Dianne’s wetsuit for training and racing purposes this summer. It is a very comforting thing to wear out in a lake. If I need to rest, I can float on my back like very playful otter with my toes above the surface, no effort required.

I brought my mom and my daughter out to enjoy the water with me on Friday morning. It was a gorgeous sunny weekday and the beach was not busy when we were out there at around 10 a.m.

Mom watched me like a hawk the whole time. She realized she couldn’t fetch me if I needed help, but she would have raised an alarm and prayed really hard if I had. I don’t know how much Mom remembers about my childhood swimming lessons, but if you had told either one of us 30 years ago I’d be doing this, we would have quietly nodded and made the crazy sign.

I had this thought as I swam towards a corner of the bay, that I when I reached it I would get out and wave back at Mom from the shore. I did reach that corner, but when I attempted to stand up, my leg sank in the mud up to my knee.  Yeah, maybe not. I didn’t drive and swim all that way to have my family watch me get sucked into a mud hole, and hey, it was a borrowed wetsuit.

I’m not sure how far or for how long I swam. I should have worn my watch. I might have swum 20 minutes or half an hour at most. I took a few strokes of breast stroke once in a while, but front crawl felt more natural, on either side. I did some backstroke on the way back for a change.

The little bay where the beach is seems much bigger in person than it does on the map. There is no guide rope to mark deep water, maybe because it doesn’t get very deep?. With no buoys or boats or guiding ropes out there I did figure out a way to keep swimming straight: I used the sun. On the way out I swam away from it, and on the way back swam towards it. I still had to slow down to sight along the shore sometimes, but the sun kept me on track more than land-sighting alone. I expect that on race day there will be more to look at and think about.

4 weeks and 1 sleep to the Alberta Challenge Tri.

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