Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Great Salt Lake- Antelope Island to Black Rock

Every year the USA swimming age group team I coach hosts a summer long course swim meet. This always falls on the same weekend as the 8 mile Great Salt Lake Swim from Antelope Island to Black Rock. If I wanted the Utah Triple Crown this summer I needed to do the swim, so once more I roped my mom into kayaking for me so I could do the swim on my own. Figuring the logistics of it were a bit difficult, but we ended up kayaking from The Great Salt Lake Marina out by black rock to Antelope Island and then swimming back.

It was sunny and very warm for this time of year. The water was flat, like glass and there was not hint of a breeze, very different conditions from my last big swim a few weeks ago.

I had never swum in this lake before, even though I live so close to it. I must say, it is way too salty for my liking; the ocean is fine, but this is a step or two beyond. As I first stepped in the water I was almost expecting the water to sting my skin, however, it did not. I knew that I would float incredibly easily, but I couldn't quite imagine just how much that would be. I could lift my head, my arms, and my legs out of the water and stay up because the buoyancy was so much. The water felt thick, almost like syrup.

Once I had played around for a few minutes figuring out the water, I took a deep breath and put my head in the water. I was careful to keep my mouth tightly shut to try and prevent the salt water from entering my mouth. I kept pulling strong and hard through the water. I felt like I was making good time, and my stroke felt good. However, I was incredibly thirsty. Normally, the water enters my mouth every once in a while, just enough to get my lips and tongue wet. I didn't want any of this water in my mouth, plus being in the salty water was really drying me out. I had to stop for a drink more often than I normally do. Each time I would stop, my mom would use one water bottle to squirt off my face before I would drink, she would then hand me the other water bottle to actually drink from. As I would stop, I didn't need to tread, I would lift my knees up into a sitting position and my body would just bob there in the water.

At one point in the middle of the lake I freaked myself out. I stopped to get a drink and my foot hit something solid. I tentatively put my foot down and felt solid ground. The lake was so shallow that I could stand knee deep in the middle of the lake. It was hard like a rock due to all of the salt. I gulped down some Gatorade and kept going. I while later my hand hit something hard. This time I knew what it was; I had hit the bottom again. I kept going as it got more and more shallow. Finally it was so shallow that even with adjusting my pull I could not continue to swim. I climbed in the kayak and helped my mom paddle the last mile or so. I was not able to swim the last mile, but I went as far as the lake would allow so my swim was counted.

I was making forward movement, but the end never seemed to get any closer. I just kept swimming and pushing forward. I love swimming and I love open water. I could not have asked for better conditions, but I did not love this swim. The swampy smell was strong the whole time, my body was covered in brine shrimp, the salt was too much, and the water was so thick it was harder to pull through. I know many people who love swimming in this lake, but it was not for me. Once was enough for me. I think I will stick to the fresh water mountain lakes.