Total calm and ease were the two dominant feelings in the 12 hours leading up to my first solo 10km ocean swim. There was nothing left to do other than last minute race preps like putting out all my gear, checking my gels, goggles, cossie, eating, hydrating and praying for better weather than the previous day.
In the morning I woke refreshed, feeling strong and ready. I’d only been training for about seven weeks really following an injury to my upper back and had stayed out of the water more than I felt comfortable with while beating a little common cold before it could take hold.
But now, with the plan slightly changed from taking part in a race to swimming by myself only accompanied by a kayaker, I felt confident I’d be able to finish. Still, I went out slow. My yoga teacher trainer behind me with my snorkel, Michelle bringing along my gels, magnesium water and some bananas in case I needed additional energy in the kayak. For the first few kilometres from Daku resort to Cousteau resort outside the reef line, I was swimming against the current, repeating “ease, joy, flow” in my head with my strokes. I enjoyed the feeling of just gliding through the water but I was apprehensive as I’d never swum the route, relied on other people to check tides (and we were definitely swimming against it) and had no idea exactly where Cousteau’s was.
But as we started nearing the resort, the reef got more and more beautiful, with pretty blue tipped coral, yellow and black fish, a funny looking puffer Gish digging itself into the ground to take cover etc.
At the half way mark, a group of the other gorgeous girls who I am here in Fiji with for my teacher training we at the beach, cheering me on. It was one of the highlights of my swim. And turning around to swim back with more than enough energy left was an amazing feeling – even though supplies were now running low with my teacher trainer also requiring Michelle’s and my water and fuel and deciding to return still drafting off me.
I put the thought that I was responsible for Michelle’s and his wellbeing out of my mind and decided to focus. Instructing Bryan to stay close to my feet or on my hip to draft, I started powering back. My mantra changed to ease, flow, strength as I sped up and shaved about thirty minutes of the return leg. Ease with every lift of my elbow and hand out of the water, flow with the rhythm of dipping into and gliding through the water and strength with every pull through the water. I now felt totally in my element.
The feeling I’d had a few times during training in Sydney swimming bondi bay or at Ian Thorpe aquatic centre, that I was a part of the water, a creature made to crawl through the water and that it was just caressing my body as I flowed through it, came back. This was it. I was doing it.
I felt strong almost all the way to the end. Only about 1km out, unsure where the finish was and trying not to drink and out of fuel by now, I started getting a slight dehydration headache and knew I’d need more fuel if I wanted to continue much further. But the last 250ms, I sped up again, increasing my cadence and adding a kick. It was an awesome feeling to sprint across the finish line. If done it – in 3 hours 40 minutes with about ten minute breaks for food and at Cousteau resort. Admittedly, I could’ve gone a far bit faster if I’d known I would have so much energy, had swum by myself and had known the route. So I can’t wait to return next year to try and get sub 3 hours when I lead a yoga and Pilates retreat at Daku Resort. Stay posted for more info!