Last night I headed down to St. Pete Beach to meet up with Tori and the Mad Dogs Triathlon club for their Wednesday night open water swim. It had been beautiful all day, but there was a forecast for storms in the area later on in the afternoon. My drive down there was just under an hour, and because it started at 6 I didn’t want to get caught in traffic. I ended up leaving at about 4:40 to make sure that I got their in time. As I was driving over the bridges across the bay, I noticed how hard the wind was blowing, the white caps in the water, and the dark clouds heading towards the area.
I kept going, because the way Florida summer storms work, they can hang around for 15 minutes and then pass just as quickly as they came.
When I got there at 5:35, though, this is what I saw…
It was not a pretty site, and I thought the swim would be cancelled. I saw Tori and we walked over to the place where the group congregates. Everyone was pretty set on swimming, and I was pretty surprised. It sprinkled for a second, there was one boom of thunder, and then slowly for the next 15 minutes, the clouds moved far enough away that we decided to walk to the beach and go for it.
It had been a long time since I swam in the ocean. When I did the mock triathlon a month or two ago, we swam in the inner coastal, which felt a little more protected in some way. I was afraid for what the water was going to look like when we crossed over the sand dunes and onto the beach. But much to my surprise, but not to the surprise of those that knew the effect of winds blowing from the east, the water was calm. There were hardly things in the water that could even be called waves. It looked almost like a swimming pool!
We walked the mile down to the Don Cesar, got in the ocean, and it was time to go! It was surreal swimming a mile without touching a wall. I’ve never swam that far not in a pool, but I really liked it! The thing that sometimes gets in the way of having a relaxing swim is the desire I have to count laps. I always feel the need to know how far I go, so this helped to know that the course was already marked out one mile.
And I just swam and swam and swam. I tried not to focus on the bottom, because I was afraid I’d see a sting ray or something (we’d seen them when we were walking). Instead I just did my best to practice siting and going in a straight line. I know I did a little zig zagging, but for the most part I felt like I stayed pretty straight. By 3/4 of a mile in, I was ready to be done or to at least feel a wall. I wasn’t overly tired as much as I just wanted to relief that we as swimmers sometimes get when doing a flipturn and a long streamline. My arms just needed a break!
Eventually I got to the clump of trees, steeple, and American flag that I had been told to look for, lifted my head, stood up, and saw an unbelievably gorgeous evening! It’s almost hard to convince someone that it was the same day!