For the past couple of years I’ve done the Semana Nautica 3-mile swim, but this was my first year doing the 6-mile swim (my first marathon swim)!! Semana Nautica is a great sports festival that happens every summer in Santa Barbara. Technically I wasn’t supposed to even participate in the 6-mile swim because I’m under the age requirement, but the race director agreed to let me swim it after a bit of convincing 🙂
The morning of the swim, I went through my normal pre-swim routine by eating my overnight oats for breakfast, drinking a ton of water, doing my shoulder exercises, stretching, and visualizing the swim (I like to be prepared, if you can’t tell 🙂 ). The water temperature was 69 degrees (!!), so I knew getting cold wouldn’t be an issue. The one thing I was a little concerned about was my shoulders, as they had both started hurting a little bit during my water polo practices the week before. Luckily, that didn’t end up being too much of a problem.
The race began around 9:15. I ran into the water and raced out to the end of the pier. After passing the pier, I focused on slowing my breathing and lengthening my stroke. It always takes me about a mile to get “warmed up” on longer swims and then I tend to pick up the pace, so in the beginning I just concentrated on getting into the rhythm of my stroke. I felt strong and fast in the water, with (so far) no hint of shoulder pain. The water was so warm that the occasional cold spots I hit were actually a huge relief.
Before I knew it, 45 minutes had gone by and Craig gave me my first feed. The chocolate protein shake tasted amazing after swallowing so much saltwater. I looked back and the pier was already way off in the distance. I was making great time.
I started swimming again, enjoying the warm sun on my back and the deep blue of the water below me. We decided to take a direct route to Hendry’s beach, so I was swimming way off shore, which is always fun. At this point, I decided to start picking up the pace a little by rotating more and kicking harder. I was still feeling amazing and super strong in the water. At one point, it dawned on me that I was actually doing this, and that I would be an actual marathon swimmer in less than 2 hours. Those thoughts definitely gave me a burst of motivation.
When I stopped to feed for the second time I realized that I had already made it to Hope Ranch beach! I drank my shake quickly and returned to swimming. Although the swells were relatively small, I started to get a little nauseous from inhaling so much saltwater. Around the 2 hour mark I was feeling so sick that I had to stop for a minute to throw up (sorry, TMI?). I felt a lot better after throwing up and then returned to my normal pace.
I fed again at 2.25 hours and realized how close I was to the finish. This was around the time that my shoulders started to ache and my stroke slowed down a little from fatigue. I was still having an amazing time, though- the sun was shining, the water was SO clear, and I could see lots of fish swimming beneath me! I fought through the fatigue and kept pushing, putting more emphasis on my legs and core instead of my shoulders.
Finally, I saw the big yellow buoy and started sprinting towards it (as much as I could at that point, given that I had been swimming for 3 hours). I rounded the buoy and swam towards shore. I stood up unsteadily and ran (stumbled?) towards the finish line, welcomed by cheers from my family and other swimmers. My time was 2:55.17.
This swim was such an amazing experience! It was definitely a big confidence-booster considering how strong I felt in the water for the majority of the race. I’m super excited to see what I can accomplish in my upcoming swims!