Thursday, September 4, 2014

Swamping in Deer Creek

What could be better than to get the International Open Water Triple Crown and the Utah Triple Crown in the same year. Unfortunately there was one small problem; I was going to be out of town on the day of both the Deer Creek 10  mile. No worries, I would do it on my own.


It was a warm September day and I was off work. My mom could help paddle. What else did we need? We packed the food and swimming items that would be needed, tossed the small Walmart kayak in the back of the truck and headed up to the reservoir. It never crossed my mind to check and see how breezy or windy it was. For the Deer Creek swim you swim 5 miles along the shore from one marina to the next. As you start the swim your turn right and swim up this branch off the main reservoir. I am used to swimming from point A to point B for any swim that is not training. I hated this detour up a side branch that made it feel like I was adding all this pointless extra distance onto the swim. Despite feeling like it was just going out of my way, we made it through the side branch fairly quickly. However, once we got back out to the main part of the reservoir the chop started. It was a little annoying, but at least it was pushing me in the right direction, making my time good. After turning into and swimming past several little bays along the edge, we rounded a point and I could see the marina in  the distance. We were almost to the halfway point! I sprinted to the marina, a bit frustrated at my mom for staying just ahead of me rather than next to me. She was trying to push me along.

I grabbed a quick drink of Gatorade with an addition of several table spoons of honey and then turned around for the return trip. The chop was not as bad as I had thought it would be.
I was afraid that once we turned around the chop that would be going against us would be pushing us back. This is okay I thought. Wrong. Once we rounded the point to follow the main shore, the wind was absolutely horrible. For every two strokes I took forward, I was pushed back one. Almost every other breath filled my mouth with water. This is going to be a long swim back, I thought! It seemed as if each time I would look at my mom in the kayak next to me, the kayak would be vertical, it was getting pushed by the waves so badly. My mom was paddling as hard as she could and still could not keep up with my slow forward progression. The kayak was riding lower and lower in the water with each passing minute. I wondered how long until it would just sink or flip over.

Then, one time I turned my head just in time to see my mom tilt sideways and roll right into the water as the kayak sunk and rolled upside-down. My mom is a great swimmer and can hold her own, but I don't think she could have gotten both herself and the kayak to the edge by herself. We were crossing a small bay and were between 100 to 150 yards from the edge. So, 7 miles into the swim, I stopped and pulled the kayak to shore with my mom swimming next to me. As we got to the edge, we dumped all the water out and and then, I kept swimming, while my mom walked along the edge of the shore pulling the kayak by a rope until the waves calmed down a little bit.
I don't have any pictures of the bad chop,
because we were so focused on what we were doing. 

Both of us were frustrated and tired and just wanted to be done. When I saw the marina where the swim would finish, I very badly wanted to just swim to the end and be done. I was frustrated enough that I didn't care if I didn't quite finish the official swim. It was only at my mom's encouragement that I turned down the side branch and kept swimming. This time the side branch seemed to go on forever. Each time I felt I should be to the end, I would find out I still hand quite a bit more before I could turn around. Finally I told myself I would just swim without thinking and I would not dwell on how long it felt or on how miserable this swim had been. I was so focused that I didn't realize when I finally was done with the swim. I was pushing hard just focused when I saw the bottom of the the boat ramp. Once the swim was done, I realized that although I was frustrated, it was a good challenge for me to have to swim through waves and chop like that. My mom was such a champ for paddling through the storm.

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