last summer was my first summer with CIBBOWS for which I’m very grateful.
It started with me looking at a map of Fire Island. I usually study maps to figure out where to hike, and I couldn’t think of a good reason why one wouldn’t do the same for swimming, although I didn’t know of anyone doing it. That’s how I started searching the internet and found CIBBOWS. I signed up for an open water clinic. Feeling nervous about it, I decided to prepare with an ocean swim. Next to Grimaldo’s Chair, I saw a few people with pull buoys, worked up my nerves, and asked them if they knew anything about ocean swimming 🙂
The welcome was very friendly. I remember when I was trying to run into the waves, someone called me back: “Do you have goggles?” Sure I had brought goggles but dazed by the moment had left them in the backpack. Running back to the waves, I was called back again: “Do you have a swim cap to keep warm?” Sure I had but had left it in the backpack. I was so kindly taken care off one callback at a time until I was fully outfitted 🙂
Deciding to sign up for Grimaldo’s Mile was a big deal. I spent so much time thinking about it and talking about it with my swim trainer. To my easily impressible ideas, swimming past the one mile mark enters one into legendary status. I entered with the plan of seeing how far I could go. When I made the turn at the last buoy, my nervous system was so fried that I could only continue the same motion like the robotic twitching of a dying fish or stop and sink. I got so disoriented about where up and down was. I couldn’t see through the fogged up goggles. And then I heard my name being called. My open water instructor had come in the water to cheer me on and help me feel the direction to swim into!
Triple Dip wasn’t the same I’m born again experience, however still profound. I wanted to give up before I reached the first buoy to make it out to the open water 🙁 Supposedly, the current was peaking at 1 mph the other direction. I felt like I was going forever. A dear swim angel gave me company. He seemed to float on his back like in a bathtub because my swimming was so slow. Occasionally, he’d sprint a bit forward to shake what must have been stagnation for him off. Not even having reached the turnaround point, I was so done. But because I was so done, I wasn’t going to let all the effort be for nothing and kept swimming on. Funny enough, the way back was so fast, it felt like ten minutes (out of a total swim of 2 hours or so).
I’ve been missing the swims in the ocean during winter. It’s very beautiful to go in the open ocean, beg that the seagulls get out of the way, and look at horror at the things with claws crawling around beneath. Actually, it’s fun to experience that foreign world out there with a little initial trepidation. The waves make swimming so much more interesting than in a pool.
The sensation of swimming in fall was interesting. Right after entering, there is that shock that causes one to run out of air. After half hour, the sensation of being cold gives away to feeling slightly warm. Then as the cold sets in a bit deeper, the mind goes blank in a kind of stupor of happiness. It’s such a refreshing reset to the brain after studying a lot.
Thank you all for that wonderful season last year and all the camaraderie and support on the beach! I’m looking forward to seeing you all in spring again!
The Sea Angels will be waiting for you Thomas!!!! If Angles make it look effortless, it’s only because they eat beans for two weeks prior to the big day, and are full of gas on the day. This makes them more buoyant, and gives them an added propulsion….and then there’s the mermaids…. no gas needed we them. Tesla’s of the water…The difference between what seems “fast” and “slow” sometimes can be really pretty small. Nice you took time to write about your experience. I think your being pretty modest in the description of your personal challenge. Happy Swimming! (you can observe whether Angels are con gas, or no gas by seeing how bloated their bellies are before the big swim…skinny belly = mer-maid/man/person!)
Great – thanks Liam – now everyone will be staring at my mid-section. 😉
Thomas, it warms my heart to read this – thank you for taking the time to share your adventures, and know that you are a true inspiration! I look forward to having you swim with us again this year.
You’re not the only one looking forward to getting back in the ocean!
Anyone know what dates we should pencil in for Grimaldo’s, etc.?