Katie Benoit: Playing the Open-Water Waiting Game
It seems things before every major race tend to be very similar. I always wish I had just a little more time to train. I never feel prepared enough.
One of the difficult things about open-water swimming is that there are no guarantees. Every swimmer's worst fear is to fly halfway around the world just to sit on the beach waiting for better weather. Carbo-loading – eating lots of carbohydrates the day before the event – becomes tricky if you don't know when the big day is going to be. We call it the open-water waiting game.
The North Channel, like every major channel, holds its very own set of challenges for swimmers. The 18-mile stretch between Northern Ireland and Scotland, the North Channel is most feared for its cold temperatures; water temperatures linger around 52 degrees, and it has been swum successfully fewer than 30 times. Lion’s mane jellyfish, commonly around 10-30 feet in size, linger all over this stretch of water. While inconvenient, their stings do not tend to lead to more serious complications (or so we hope).
I find myself partially excited about the upcoming adventure and partially wondering what I was thinking. To be honest, I don't even really like to take cold showers. Lots of my cold-water training was done in my Endless Pool, which I kept at 59 degrees in an unheated garage all winter. On top of that, I had the opportunity to swim in some 55-degree water at 9,000 feet in the local Colorado mountains. Nevertheless, I wonder if it will be enough.
To ease the pressure, I have scheduled a ‘back-up’ swim in late August. I am hoping to be the second person to complete a 42-mile course down the length of Lake Constanz (aka Bodensee) in Germany. It never hurts to have a back-up plan...
At this stage, all the major training has been done. My job will be to keep my mind in the game and wait patiently for my opportunity. I can't wait for the adventure to get started.