I've never really done any charity work (other than at church) or any charity fundraising. I just donate monetarily to support local charities and occasionally national/bigger ones. So when our swim coach challenged our masters swim team to raise money for this 'Swim Across America', I initially just thought I would do the same as always. I would support my friends' fundraising, but just watch from the sidelines.
|Swag when we first signed up|
My lanemate, Kelly, is a cancer survivor. I have chronicled her journey before. We swim together all the time. At Ironman Chattanooga 70.3 this year she mentioned she was going to do this swim. For obvious reasons. She wanted me to do it as well, and I was quite hesitant. Well, because, I am not good at raising money, and I don't like swimming. Finally though, I said if you sign up for it then I will too.
Of course she signed up for it, then I did as well. The minimum fundraising threshold is not that high ($400), and your entry fee ($25) goes to your fundraising effort as well. That part wasn't too bad. You then had a choice of a 0.5 mile, 1.5 mile, or 3 mile swim. I went with the 1.5 mile. I thought a half mile was too short (who are you??), but then 3 mile is too long and not fun. Plus I've never swam further than 2.6 miles in open water. (That's what my garmin said from that swim in October a couple of years ago.)
After checkin, and grabbing all the stuff, I headed over to the other of the sand to where my MSA teammates were setup. We had 22 MSA'ers signed up. So with everyone's families, there was quite a crowd. We just hung out for a bit, but pretty soon they gathered everyone at the pavilion before the 3 milers were to go off at 4pm.
|"The Big Check"|
|Swim Start Chute and Beach|
Patty spoke for a while, and got pretty emotional speaking about Brian. Brian was a member of MSA that lost his battle for cancer last December. I didn't swim with Brian at practice, ever. I had only seen him a few times. I did get to be his teammate on a relay at the 2016 Sunbelt Swim meet. He led off and I was anchor leg. Because, well, I a really fast swimmer. #anchorleg Our team is named after Brian's famous quote after he signed up for Sunbelt "I'm so far out of my box I can't see it anymore!"
Soon it was time for the 3 milers to go off. They left a few minutes after 4p. It was pretty casual start. Everyone kinda mosied into the water. Some people jumped the gun. Some people hung out for a few seconds after the gun went off. I can only presume it was that they didn't want to interrupt a good pee. This is a 1.5 mile loop, so they had to do the loop twice.
|3 Miler Teammates|
Eventually then us that were swimming 1.5 miles started gathering together. It was a balmy 88 degrees, and I just wore my regular swimsuit. I opted to skip the swimskin. I walked down with CarolAnn and Trista, and we waded in together. I really didn't have much of a plan, being that this was a charity swim. I did want to beat CarolAnn. So there's that. She was 3rd out of the water in her age group at Ironman North Carolina 70.3 last year. If I was every 3rd on the swim in an Ironman Event, I might have it engraved on my tombstone.
|The 1.5 Milers|
|Go Trista, Go Trista!|
Instead of making a beeline southwest, I kinda looped around. then I finally kinda saw the turn buoy. The other buoys were kinda misleading. If you followed them closely, and not the shore, you would go a long way around. I felt better now that I (kinda) knew what I was doing. Then all of a sudden this pack just swam over me. About 6 people surrounded me and swam through me. Stupid fast 3 mile swimmers on their second lap. We should have started earlier.
The first turn is about 1/2 mile into the race. Right after the turn at that first buoy, I notice CarolAnn right next to me. I thought, well at least I know where she's at. That spurred me to a bit of surge, and I believe I started to pull away from her then. Of course that didn't stop me from being stampeded by a second group of 3 milers swimming through me on that second leg.
|Pace and Strokes|
I tried some 2 stroke breathing to try and quicken my turnover. Maybe it helped maybe it didn't. The second turn buoy was about a mile in. I made the turn and started to head home. There were several low spots in the water. I saw many people walking. I didn't at all. I'm like, this is a swim, I want to swim. I did brush some branches and almost hit a stump. But I kept swimming.
I finished and felt pretty good. Fellow MSA'er Trudy was at the finish, and I asked her if I had won. She said I did and directed me over to the check out table. They wanted everyone to signoff when they got out of the water, just to make sure they got everyone. They handed me a towel and got some hugs from some teammates.
I just kinda hung out near the finish and watched the 3 milers finish. When Patty came through, I gave her a big hug. Then I went and changed. Then I got some food at the pavilion. We hung out at the pavilion for a little bit. Then everyone started to head out. Some of us met up at the Dilworth Neighborhood Grill for some food and beers. I was mostly interested in the beers. We had a good group of 15 of us there. I sat next to Tom, Patty's husband, and mostly talked to them and Trista, and John, and Bill. We had a really good time. Even with all that, I was home by 9:30. Big night out for me.
I'm glad I did this event. We raised a lot of money for cancer research that will be used locally here in Charlotte. Honestly, though, I only signed up for this event because my lanemate Kelly was doing it and encouraged me to do it. Unfortunately she had an emergency with one of her friends that she had to attend to and did not make it.
|Really Nice Big Finisher Towel|
|My Swim 'mates Trista and CarolAnn|