Bay Swim #14

Tomorrow will be my 14th Great Chesapeake Bay Swim. I got to spend the afternoon and evening with Matt, seven other awesome swimmer friends and their friends and family. It was a lovely day…but a bit bitter sweet. 

Tomorrow would have been my mother’s 70th birthday. Prior to this year, my mom  has been at the finish for nearly all of my Bay Swims. She waited patiently to give me a hug and kiss, wipe some dirt and sludge off my face and ask me all about my swim. In the last few years, she came up the afternoon before the swim and we met near the finish line at Hemingway’s for lunch and a drink. In the evening we headed out for a pasta dinner with our friend Amy. 


My mom spent countless hours of her life next to various bodies of water watching me swim and cheering me on. Tomorrow will be my first Bay Swim without her and it will be hard to pull myself up onto the shore at the end knowing that she won’t be there to celebrate my swim or what would have been her 70th birthday. 
So, thank you to Jeff, Amy, Heather, Tess, Lori, Denise, Ginny Ann, Ben, Craig, Slater, Mariah, Kathy and, most of all, Matt for a great afternoon and evening and let’s have an even better day in the Bay tomorrow! My mom would have wanted it that way. And I can think of nothing she would have liked more than to celebrate her 70th at the Bay Swim. 


Unfortunately – no swim pics of us available on my phone…but this pic shows why it was a good thing I started swimming🙂

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SCAR

It is great to be back in Arizona for SCAR!! And super happy to have my friend Amy Frick swimming too. We had a preswim dinner tonight and it was awesome to see so many friends and make some new ones. And, sadly, to feel the absence of those who aren’t here. SCAR is a four day event in four canyon lakes in Arizona east of Mesa. 

The first day, Wednesday, is Saguaro Lake where we swim dam to dam for about 9.5 miles. Water temp is reported as being in the low 60s (yay!). Thursday is Canyon lake where we swim dam to dam about 9 miles. Friday is Apache lake where we swim dam to dam about 17 miles. And, finally, on Saturday we have 6.2 mile night swim in Roosevelt lake. Whew!! 


Matt will be kayaking for me and our friend Angela is kayaking for Amy. We will both have SPOT trackers on our kayaks. Swim starts in a few different waves around 9:00 am (or noon EDT). 

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Beginning of Cork Distance Week

Cork Distance Week is a 9 day week based in Sandycove a few minutes from Kinsale, Ireland.  The mastermind behind it is renowned marathon swimmer – Ned Denison.  By invitation only – it is akin to marathon swimmers boot camp. Campers swim roughly 4-5 hours a day (over two sessions) in various locations throughout Cork – in the sea, in rivers DSCF1368and in lakes. The week is 9 days rather than 7 because “you never know when your marathon swim might end or how long it will take.”  As Ned explained to some English Channel aspirants…marathon swimming is really the only sport where, most times, you don’t know exactly where the finish line will be when you start.  Hence – a tough 9 day camp.

Matt and I arrived in Dublin on Thursday and spent our first day and night there.  We headed to Kinsale on Friday and had a lovely dinner with friends Anna Maria, Darius and Louise.  Ned and his partner joined us for dessert. Then we headed to another restaurant to meet some other distance week swimmers. The best part of these events is getting to meet and to know open water swimmers all over the world.

Saturday morning came and we were to be at Sandycove at 8:00 a.m. for introductions and toes in the water at 9:00.  There were about 50-60 people there – some participating in all of distance week and some local swimmers just there for a swim. Everyone shared their personal stories, successes and goals. I was a little concerned about the cold as the water was reported to be between 10 and 14 degrees Celcius (50-57 Fahrenheit) as you travel around Sandycove Island. The temperature differential around the island is quite amazing and swings about 5-10 degrees.

I was one of the last people in the water as I eased my way in. My friend Anna Maria helped, as did my new friend Angela who lives in Cork. She agreed to be my swim buddy around the island and gave me the great advice that it helps to dip your chest down into the water before plunging in. I always splash my face – but Angela’s trick worked and off we went after I caught my breath. It wasn’t as bad as I had anticipated – I think because I froze-up pretty quickly. The water was rough as we came around the first corner of the imageisland and Angela stopped to make sure I was okay and to give me directions along the way. The water was in the low 50s, the wind was blowing about 25mph and it was a cloudy morning. Thankfully, we made it around the island having done a wide lap to be sure not to get pushed into the rocks by the wind and waves. It was great swim and I was glad to have my first lap under my belt.

Saturday afternoon we were off for a 8k swim across Loch Allua a little over an hour away from Kinsale.  We were shipped up to the start in the back of a box truck and off we went. The lake was fresh water, peaty and a clear brownish color. It was actually lovely and the water temperature a bit warmer around 58 -60 degrees Fahrenheit. There were reed beds and water lillies – and COWS! They were right by the side of the river at one point staring at all the swimmers going by. And – it poured down rain for the majority of the swim. A great way to start a week of swimming in Ireland. I completely regret that I didn’t take my camera with me to capture the cows and the rain.  I finished in about 2 hours and 20  minutes and swam in with friends Janet and Amanda. The swim was followed with a dinner at a lovely restaurant.

Sunday brought another windy and rainy morning and we had toes in the water at Sandycove at 8:00 a.m.  I found Angela and asked if she would be my swim buddy again and my friend Janet decided to swim with us. The swells coming around the first corner weren’t quite as high as Saturday morning – but it was pretty lumpy. I brought the camera along and the pictures don’t really show the extremity of the lumps. At the end of our swim, Angela’s 11 year old nephew was swimming inside the island for his first foray into swimming in the sea and we swam with him a bit. Another great morning. DSCF1378

Sunday afternoon brought the torture swim – and I will do a separate post about that later in the week.  Last night we had cake and dinner (yes – in that order :)) at Anna Maria and Darius’s house along with a number of other swimmers.  Great week so far!

We are off to swim in the Blackwater River in Fermoy this afternoon. It has been pouring rain today so the conditions going up the river should be rough but coming back down the river should be super fun!

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The 2015 Season Begins

It has taken me quite awhile to write this post and I’ve wondered over the last few months exactly what I was going to say and how I was going to say it. Tomorrow marks my 13th Great Chesapeake Bay Swim. It is now officially the start of the 2015 open water season for me. It is time for a post.

As many of you know, late last November, I broke my left wrist in four places as well as the scaphoid bone in my left hand. The break was bad and I had surgery two days later to have a metal plate and screws put into my wrist and a pin put into my scaphoid. And, so began my journey of recovery.IMG_0032

I spent many painful weeks and months after the surgery wondering how this injury was going to impact my swimming. And, quite frankly, it consumed me at times. The pain from the injury itself was nothing compared to my fear over how such a severe injury, to my arm no less, was going to impact my swimming. But, there was nothing to do but work on my wrist along with my amazing therapist Carrie and wait and see.

I got back in the water slowly and, in the beginning of March I tried to swim some while we were on vacation in Jamaica. But, something didn’t feel right – in my body or my head – and I couldn’t quite put my finger on it.

When I got back to pt, we realized that not only was my wrist still recovering, but my shoulder and my scapula had essentially locked up from having been immobilized for so long. We began working on that and I started to feel a little better in the water. But my stamina had atrophied along with my body. On many days I felt I was taking one step forward and two steps back.

During the last month or so, my body has started to come around, but, again, something didn’t feel quite right. This week, my dear friend Anna Maria sent me a message wishing me luck this weekend in the Bay Swim. And, what she said helped me put my finger on exactly what had been nagging at me. She said that she hoped my arm would get the business done this weekend – because she knew my head would. And, there it was – Anna Maria elegantly summed up in one sentence what I had been trying to figure out for months.

I read her message several times and realized what I had been feeling was a lack of confidence in my body – not in my head. Until Anna Maria’s message, I hadn’t really been able to separate the two things. She reminded me that my head didn’t break last November – my wrist did. Of course, when your body lets you down it does cause you to feel fragile in both body and spirit. But, I knew Anna Maria was right – my body may let me down this weekend (hopefully not) – but my head certainly won’t. I’ve swum across the Chesapeake 12 times before and it is like an old shoe. It is the perfect swim for me to tackle as I come out of this journey of recovery.

I’ve spent some time this morning thinking about my first Bay Swim as that was really where my open water journey started. I vividly remember during my first swim, stopping in the middle, putting my goggles up on my forehead and feeling like a Coke bottle in the current. I remember the water was “freezing” and I wore a wetsuit – despite the water
temperature being only in the low 60s. But mostly I remember the dark places I found myself in along the way and how my head got me through that swim. When I reached the other side – that was why I was proud of my accomplishment. My head got me through and my body had just been along for the ride. That is what keeps me coming back.

Despite my wrist, shoulder, scapula and stamina still not being quite right, I will stand on the beach at Sandy Point State Park tomorrow and look across to the other side of the Chesapeake Bay and know that, whatever happens along the way, my head will get me across. My body may let me down – and I hope it doesn’t – but, there is no way I will stop IMG_1711swimming because my head lets me down. I have spent many, many years training my head in addition to my body. My head hasn’t atrophied or broken. It is still as stubborn and motivated as ever.

So, thanks Anna Maria for helping me find my way back to me. I’ll let you know how it goes after I get to the other side.

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24 Hour Swim4RVA Video

Here’s a video from the 24 Hour Swim4RVA. It was a great event. Seven teams and a total of 87 people participated. Four teams swam in continuous relays for 12 hours. Two teams swam in continuous relays for 24 hours. And, I swam 24 miles in 24 hours (one mile at the top of each hour – 24 times). It was one of the hardest swims I have ever done!  At the end of 24 hours – we had covered 388,800 yards and raised $11,200 for SwimRVA’s Drownproof Richmond Campaign.

Many thanks to new and old friends for taking time to participate in this event and to raise money for such a worthy cause. In particular, thanks to Jay, Adam, Don and Jim for braving the full 24 hours. The wee hours were pretty brutal but made much more tolerable by your presence. Thanks to Molly, Amy and Chandra for companionship and support both in and out of the water. And, most of all – thanks to everyone for your donations.

Put it on your calendar for next year!

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24 Hour Swim – Fundraiser

24 HOUR SWIM…From Saturday morning at 9:00 a.m. to Sunday morning at 9:00 a.m. I will be swimming 24 miles (in the pool this time). 24 miles in 24 hours to raise money to help teach people to swim!  At the top of every hour – I will swim a mile. Then, hop out of the pool, rest until the top of the next hour…and repeat.  Essentially – wash, rinse and repeat…24 times. My fundraising goal – $1200.  Please help me reach that goal.  Links to my donation page and information about the event are below.

https://www.crowdrise.com/courtneypaulk-SwimForRVA

http://www.swimrichmond.org/events/swim-for-rva-event.htm

GOPRO

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Cape Cod Bay Video

Here’s a video from my Cape Cod Bay swim.  What a great day it was!

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