Last weekend, we organized a long group swim at Meech Lake. Swimming “beach-to-beach”, as it’s commonly known by local swimmers, is about 4km following the shoreline. You can often spot swimmers in the water heading from one beach to the other as you drive up along the lake’s edge. But we decided to double the route, for a “beach-to-beach and back” swim. We started at Blanchet Beach, swam down to O’Brien Beach, and back again for a total of 8km. Here’s the route:
Ten swimmers set out, organized in two pods; speedsters, who were likely to be swimming a faster pace and who had previously swum the distance (or more), and then those swimmers who were attempting the full distance for the first time. That’s me in the middle, in my spanking brand-new blue geometric Uglies suit, pleased as can be:
On the way up to Blanchet Beach, we parked cars at exit points at O’Brien Beach and McCloskey’s boat launch, just in case. We didn’t use either, but felt better knowing we had the option to exit, just in case. Food was stashed away in each car, should anyone need it. Better to be safe than sorry. The water was fairly calm, and the sun peeked out only occasionally, which was too bad. But we weathered the chill really well (ha! weathered, see what I did there), shorter fuel stops made a world of difference. Diane, decked out in a neoprene cap for warmth:
I supported someone in the second pod throughout the swim, so in a way it was her swim and her accomplishment, and I quite enjoyed it. I had a stiff left arm and shoulder going in, so the pace worked out well for me. Having said that, the last few kilometres were pretty tough – my bicep, I think, is the issue. I haven’t been doing much stretching, which is the worst, my body is not unlike an old, brittle elastic. So the last bit was a slog, I swam crab-like, because full extension of the left arm hurt too much. As soon as we were out of the water, I started stretching with a yoga strap. And ate post-swim double-chocolate cake, totally worth it, it’s all I thought about for the last kilometre.
Everyone finished the full 8km distance, which is pretty awesome. I knew they would when we first started out. I swim with some very determined, headstrong people. Exit early? Not bloody likely.
The speedsters were long gone but we stayed on the beach and enjoyed a potluck of hot pea soup, scones, cheese, watermelon, cake and coffee. This was our first time bringing hot soup along to a swim, and wow, it warmed me back up very quickly, felt warm and nourishing. I have a feeling hot soup will become a regular addition to our open water swims.
My recovery afterwards was tough. I took the dog for a long walk, jumped into a hot bath and laid down to nap. Muscle tightness set in while I was sleeping, and I awoke to excruciating pain in my left arm. The bicep muscle had seized up entirely, so I hobbled around, clutching the arm like a broken wing – I couldn’t extend at all. I slapped a heating pad on it, slowly stretched it out, rolled it with a yoga tune-up ball, and by the next morning I had most of my functionality back. By Sunday evening, the arm was still tight, but significantly better. By Monday, all was well, better than before the swim. Lesson learned, I need to be stretching way more!
All in all, a great day. My mum pointed out how lucky I am to have friends who like doing the same things I do. She’s not wrong there!