Tonight, after taking the family to IHOP (yeah, I’m a big spender), we drove down to Utah Lake, where we drove out to the end of the north peninsula and parked. I sort of knew that I was going to jump in, but was hesitant. There was a cool wind and I was sort of chickening out.
But I got out and took my shirt off. I was already a little cold. A car was parking next to us. A guy got out and asked if I was “really going to get in there?” I said I was thinking about it. He then asked if he could shoot me swimming for a photo contest for Utah Lake-related pictures. I said “sure” and hopped into the rougher water on the north of the peninsula. I had no choice. My family was watching. The photographer (Randyl Nielson is his name) was shooting. Would you back out?
I crawled carefully over the rocks and into the cold water. I was surprised at how far I had to crawl into the water in order to clear the rocks that build up that peninsula. It seems like the south side (marina side) is easier to get into.
But as I started swimming, I realized that the water was more choppy than I’d estimated. I swam as my body rose and fell with each wave. Oxygen wasn’t always available when I’d turn for a pocket of air. Sometimes my expected pocket was filled with a crashing wave. So sometimes I had to wait for the next stroke cycle to get my needed air. I was cold, my chest was constricting and I was a little nervous. There is a lot of pressure to not drown when your family is watching you from the vehicle.
As I neared the buoy that tells boats to slow down, I could hear the chain in the water as it was jerked about by the wind and water. I don’t know how to explain this, but I’ve always had a real fear of buoys. I know it’s irrational, but nevertheless- this phobia exists. Why does it freak me out? Maybe because I know that, somewhere, that chain meets the lake floor. Look, I know this is a little disjointed. I’m going to try to explain this…
I’m scared of water- shallow water, deep water, murky and clear water. Once I saw the show ‘Drain the Ocean’ and got creeped out. I don’t really want to know what a lake or ocean looks like drained. It’s like that feeling you get when you look into a empty swimming pool or a drained reservoir. I just don’t like it. If I’m in a lake, I panic if my feet ever touch the lake’s floor. I want no part of the lake floor.
It’s a challenge every time I get in the water. Fortunately, I love open water swimming enough that, I’ll take the challenge each time. I’d rather swim in dangerous, scary, gross water, any day, than get in an overcrowded, cement-ridden pool. Swim a lap, turn, swim a lap. Not my thing.
As I crawled back onto the rocks to escape the cold and relentless waves of Utah Lake, I saw an older couple had joined in watching me face my fears. Randyl and I got our contact information sorted out (he’ll send me some of those pictures) and we parted.
It was a short swim. But it’s nights like these that help me to prepare for those mornings when triathlons are choppy, cold and challenging. The more I do this, the more prepared I’ll be for open water situations. Heck, maybe someday I’ll lose some of this open water fear.
*photos to come*