Date: 8 August 2009.
Distance and route: 3.3 miles from Jamestown to Wickford across Narragansett Bay.
Water Temperature: 73.4º F, comfortable without a wetsuit.
Air Temperature: 65º F.
Swimmer: John Forasté.
Kayaker: Rich Burrows.
Rich wanted to get in an open water swim this summer and suggested a repeat of our September 2005 swim across Narragansett Bay between Jamestown and Wickford. Since we had also attempted it in July 2008 but only I was able to swim that one - roughness kept Rich from swimming the return - it was agreed that he would swim the 1st leg from Wickford to Jamestown while I kayaked.
It was a nice clear day with a bit of a chill in the air. Rich entered the water about 8:00 am as I began to navigate him almost directly into path of the crisp sun reflecting blindingly off the water. I concentrated on maintaining a straight line and identifying boats early on that would be crossing our path. Rich swam steady, strong and - as always - in good form. The water had a chop to it and, at times, swells from boats passing near enough to leave a wake. Rich finished in a good 1:36:44.
We switched roles on the Jamestown side. The rocky bottom and choppy water made this a bit tricky. And, to my surprise, the air had a chill as we readied ourselves. But, once I hit the water, the temperature was excellent - it had an invigorating chill to it. I felt good and maintained stroke for 20 minutes when Rich blew the whistle to have me swim closer to the kayak for protection from a boat that got a bit too close. After that brief but annoying interruption, I began again, keeping stroke clear across the Bay (not pausing once). In a way, it's easier to not break. Telling yourself not to break stroke, eliminates the internal conversation about whether or not to pause and, if so, when. It takes various amounts of concentration - at times total and at others little as thoughts go elsewhere. But all in all, the non-negotiable approach works best.
The chop was rather constant, but never too burdensome. I try to go with the flow, not fight the water (which would be useless anyway), maintain steady and relaxed breathing along with a long, strong and steady stroke. Swimming with a kayak - especially a bright yellow one - is wonderful. You can just settle in by eyeing only the kayak and not looking for or worrying about anything else.
I finished in a respectable 1:55:33 and felt physically and psychologically ready for the following week's 1.7 mile Save The Bay swim.
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