This post is a bit delayed as I did this swim a few weeks ago, but better late than never, right? I had already written a recap of it in my journal so I figured I might as well put it online.
I woke up at around 5am after a good night of sleep. As always before a big training swim, I ate a small bowl of oatmeal for breakfast and drank some water before heading down to the boat with my dad. We left the docks at around 6am, when the sky was just starting to get light. As we were leaving the harbor, I realized that not only did I forget to take any ibuprofen before leaving the house, but I also didn’t bring it down to the boat! I really, really hoped that this wouldn’t become an issue as I had had some shoulder pain recently.
I jumped in around 6:15. The water was 62 degrees, which was significantly warmer than it had been the past few weeks so the temperature felt amazing. The first 2 miles or so of a long swim is always hard for me because I’m not warmed up yet and I have to keep the doubts and worries from filling my head. I forced myself to focus on each stroke, each minute, instead of thinking about how far I had to go. After a while, I started to really enjoy myself. The water was crystal-clear, the sun was shining, and there was a slight current helping me out. I felt fast and strong and warm, almost like I could keep going forever. I took my first feed and the Vitamin Water with Carbo Pro tasted great after swallowing so much saltwater. But as I was approaching Hendry’s Beach (the 3-mile mark), my right shoulder started to ache. Shit, I thought. I had been aiming for a 4-hour swim, but I was already having shoulder issues after just over an hour! I kept pressing on, but the pain seemed to get worse with every stroke.
I made it to Hope Ranch Beach after 2.5 hours and took another feed. Despite my shoulder pain, my spirits were high. I was having so much fun swimming with the sun on my back and clear water below me! I still had plenty of energy and I felt like I might never get cold. If it weren’t for my shoulder pain, I thought, I could swim the same distance as my Anacapa swim right now!
I kept swimming and enjoying the beautiful morning. When my shoulder started hurting too badly I would swim one-armed freestyle for a while. I was a little concerned that I would hurt my shoulder more by swimming for 4+ hours, but the conditions were so perfect and I felt so strong that I had to keep going. I figured I would end up around More Mesa Beach after 4 hours of swimming, but the current was helping me swim faster than I had anticipated! At around 3 hours 50 minutes, I stopped to clear my goggles and to my surprise, I could see the Goleta Pier not too far from where I was! I knew that if I made it to the pier, it would end up being a 9-mile swim. My dad yelled down at me and gave me 2 options: I could get out after 4 hours like we had planned, or I could try to make it to the pier. When I asked him how long he thought it would take me to get to the pier, he said it would probably be about 25 or 30 minutes. “I’ll try!” I yelled, knowing that it would put my shoulder in a lot more pain but also knowing how proud I’d be after swimming 9 miles.
It was not 25 or 30 minutes like my dad had said. It ended up taking another 45 minutes. But I was in an amazing mood, thinking about how proud Vito and my coaches and my mom would be once I told them that I swam 9 miles. When I eventually made it, it looked like a small group of people had gathered at the end of the pier to see what I was doing. My dad, typical of him, yelled up to them, “MY DAUGHTER JUST SWAM FROM THE YACHT CLUB!! ISN’T SHE AMAZING? SHE’S GOING TO SWIM THE ENGLISH CHANNEL SOMEDAY!!” I was too exhausted to tell him to shut up and kind of just laughed along.
This swim was an amazing experience and a huge confidence booster. I felt so strong the whole way besides some shoulder issues, and I never got cold or tired. I feel so, so ready to take on Anacapa in October and I’m so excited for the incredible adventure that awaits me in just a couple months!