Since I wrapped up my university swimming career back in 1989, I can count on two fingers the number of times I've swum more than 5 KM straight ...
May 4th, 2012 - when I swam the ~9 miles (~14+ km) 'dam-to-dam' distance of Saguaro Lake outside of Phoenix as part of the 'tester team' for what has become the SCAR Swim
Today - when I headed out to Orr Lake to swim 10KM by myself ... to prove to my 50-something self that I still have endurance and to enter both the Build to a Marathon and the Masters Swimming of Ontario's virtual open water challenges
As I needed to get out early both to beat any potential boating activity and to be back home not too late to start my workday, I arrived at the park before 6am, before the sun came up and with not much moonlight. It took me a bit of time to get myself all organized, with my "in-water water station" setup, wetsuit to handle the devilish water temperature, waterproof headlamp to light my way for the first ~40 minutes and sports gels stuffed into my suit for fuel. I was off and swimming a tad before 6:15am:
(Click any picture to enlarge the gallery)
My simple aims were to make the distance and survive (particularly if any boats did show up). As I had done a 5K in this lake recently by swimming straight across and then heading west around the perimeter of the lake, I planned on doing two of these long loops. I swam in semi-darkness until the sun crested the eastern horizon around my 2500 meter mark.
During that pre-sunrise time, I was able to see the horizon start to glow whenever I breathed to my right and watch the moon setting whenever I breathed to my left. My headlight cast kind of an eerie, but interesting glow in the water. Orr Lake is quite shallow, no deeper than 10 feet / 3 meters, and a fair amount of plant life has grown from the bottom since I started swimming here in mid-May. With no boats around and my knowledge of this lake from having swum here so much this summer, I could, for the most part, swim with my head down, not having to worry about sighting where I was going. It was kind of creepy, but also deeply meditative.
My water stop at a little more than 5K went smoothly and I removed my headlight there, looping it around the "driveway marker" that served as my feeding station. I set out for the second loop with the sun up and, at least when I looked east and west, almost nothing but blue sky. As I approached the north shore, though, a little more than 6K into the swim, I saw a very ominous sky to the north, nothing but dark clouds. We've had a fair amount of rain here over the last few days, but the weather forecast showed mainly sun today. While I would be perfectly comfortable swimming through the rain, I didn't want to get caught out in the middle of the lake if there was any lightning. As you can see from my GPS track below ...
... I turned back towards my start line. Rather than two long loops, I ended up doing three loops, with the circles getting smaller and smaller. Fortunately, that dark cloud kept heading eastward and I didn't face any rain or lightning.
Almost spot on 9:00 am, I did, indeed, complete the 10K, quite tired, especially as the wind and waves picked up notably over the second half of my swim.
What an excellent way to cap off a fabulous summer of "wild swimming"