Oh, what would you do if you were me?
Don’t assume that I have found this easy
–What would you do, if you were me- Frightened Rabbit
So, I am sitting here on a Monday, a Monday that should be swim week, A Monday I should be excited and anxious and nervous, a Monday counting the hours to swim time on Friday.
Instead I am sitting here deflated. I sat in my car for 35 mins this morning before summoning the energy to go in to the office. I spent 7 months thinking about this swim, planning this swim, training for this swim. Now I have nothing for my swim season, I could go do a 10km swim race next month in Michigan but honestly, it’s a 10km, its not exactly exciting me (no fear factor). With that said I may still go do the swim but this morning sitting here, I am not sure I even want to look at water right now.
I realize that last statement is a bit contrarian, as on one hand the idea of swimming makes me angry right now, but I also know the place most likely to soothe how I am feeling is to get in the Lake.
I feel like a bit of a failure, I feel like I have let people down, I feel like I have let myself down. I imagine people discussing how I could never have done this swim anyway, that I would of failed and it was a way for me to get out of doing it. It wasn’t, I would prefer to fail and own it than never try. I would of got in the water on Friday in most situations, in waves and plunging temperatures and DNFd but it would of been my DNF and I can live with my limitations, I don’t claim to be the best swimmer, strongest swimmer, graceful swimmer or any other accolade other than being dumb enough to try.
So, let’s talk about what happened- Safety
I have said all along safety has been my number one priority and this is true, particularly as it involves other people’s lives. Putting my own at risk is a personal choice that I decide for myself, but the swim puts others at an increased risk to support something I want to do (note the fact that it is something I want to do, not something I have to). This isn’t something I could take lightly.
I watched on Thursday night as someone I was monitoring as they swam went in to hypothermia during a 20 min swim, I was talking to him one minute, encouraging him to do a few strokes more to warm up and the next minute pulling him from the water as he struggled to talk while slurring. I spent the next 20 mins, warming him, getting him out of a wet swim suit and in to dry clothes. Have you ever watched someone shiver uncontrollably in 80f weather while wearing a wooly hat, sweater, pants and wool socks?
I had in my opinion put together a good safety plan. If I am honest (sorry if I hurt any feelings on this one), the weaknesses in my plan were not all the people I had planned to put on the boats but just some, there were a couple I know, I swim with and trust or have swam with but some of the others I was making up numbers. I figured it was better to have someone to react and help in a situation rather than no one and they would be more in support of the more knowledgeable people on the boats. I will hold my hands up and say not ideal, but it wasn’t a make or break point for me but something that could have been improved on and will be if/when I re do.
I trust my kayaker, we have swum some stupid things together, it’s a team, I know he would do whatever is needed to protect me, including telling me to get out of the water. I was confident in my kayak support. In all honestly, I was less confident in others kayak support. I know one of the other kayaks supports, he has kayaked for me in the past and I was good with him but the other swimmers support kayaker, I didn’t know, but the swimmer was confident in his ability and personal responsibility comes in there.
So boats, we had two boats lined up, one I have been talking to since last Nov/Dec and was the first on board, the second was a friend of his and is part of Tug Boat Chicago, his job is helping people on the Chicago water ways, he knows the lake and specifically Chicago waterways probably better than anyone I could possibly have asked for, they had concerns. Usually there is a boat event in Aug, it was moved forward two weeks to this coming weekend, in all my conversations with USCG, city, air and marine rescue, no one mentioned it.
This year has also seen an uptick in boating incidents in Lake Michigan, in this past weekend I have read of at least 5, including 3 of them which occurred at night. This year has seen Lake Michigan water levels at record highs, this has obscured some of the known structures in the lake and has led to some of the above-mentioned incidents.
As such in discussion with the boat captains, they did not feel that they could adequately support the over night section of the proposed swim for the safety of the swimmers, crew or boats. I cannot dispute their expertise in this area or their experience on the lake and had to take their advice seriously. It is one thing to take risks for myself but to take the decision to create risk for others is not my decision to make.
So, what now? I mope, I get grumpy/ier, I think about if I want to try this again. I need to think about whether I just need to change my plan or approach to this, I know if I don’t try this again its going to gnaw at me, but I also have to weigh that with the time commitments and effort it will take to try this again and right at this very minute, I do not have the energy.
A somewhat Adequate Swimmer