I stand deceivingly confident in my old Guard suit at the water’s edge. Goggles in hand, ear plugs in place. The guys are already used to the water. I’m freezing with my toes in. “Come in! The sooner you get all the way in, the sooner you get warm,” they yell as I shiver on the shore. Not sure about this. Come on, I think to myself, you’re a swimmer… this is no big deal. Years of getting into cold water… Just go. I dive in and immerse myself in the swells. It’s a windy day so the current is stronger than normal. I let the guys do their thing, this is my deal. Stroke. Stroke. Stroke. I take a breath and a mouthful of sea water reminds me this isn’t lap swimming. Stroke. Stroke. Stroke. I finally look down… into a tangle of rocks. The coral looks particularly intimidating as the swells lower me to only a few feet above the reef and then raise my body significantly as if I am weightless. Relax… My foot bumps into something suddenly, oh, only one of the guys. The next moment my body slams into him and I feel powerless to control my direction. Didn’t they say they had to close a beach nearby due to shark sightings? The island is close but the water is more shallow. I can touch the coral with my hand if I try. I wish I had a snorkel mask… But this isn’t snorkeling. No, the leisure of looking at fish in a shallow cove above still waters is not a luxury I have at this moment. Deep Breath. Mouth full of water. Panic sets in but I still my body. Keep going… The sandy beach awaits me as I doggy paddle just barely over the last bit of sharp coral below me. Ahhh… This is not so bad. The guys come in just at the same time and lay down on the soft sand of Flat Island. “What a workout!” They exclaim as one of them shakes out the water in his ear. My earplugs are shot. Both ears are filled with water. I can expect an ear infection any day now. Oh yes, I did this for my workout today. Running would have been much more simple. “Ready to head back?” No. “Ok, let’s do it! Freestyle the whole way there,” is my verbal response. I jump back in the water and start my swim to the beach shore. The mystery of the ocean is still intimidating and with each swell I fight for control… but this new world has an eery appeal, and I want to do it again. I want to conquer the swim to Flat Island.
FYI- this story is a combo of two swims to the island – one in which I made it, and the other in which I had to turn around… using my poetic licence 🙂