4.8 Mile West Seattle Point to Point Swim
DATE OF SWIM: 7/19/20
A group of Notorious Alki Swimmers and I decided to turn our normal Sunday swim into an epic journey from the Alki Bathhouse, around Alki Point, straight towards Lincoln Park, around the peninsula, ending at the Fauntleroy Ferry dock, finally reaching our final destination - a beloved taco truck at a gas station!
An Adventurous Crew
A few weeks ago, I suggested a group swim in West Seattle from the Alki bathhouse to Lincoln Park on the Western Washington Open Water Swimmers Facebook page. I set my mind to make this swim my summer goal. A group of swimmers expressed interest, and eventually we chatted via Messenger about conditions, currents and tricky eddies around the two points. Without concrete planning, we figured we'd eventually find a day to do it.
My last long swim from Lowman Beach to Alki bathhouse in early July was spontaneous; I considered this as proper preparation for the full route. Energized by that successful swim, I set a goal to swim the full route the next weekend. I checked my tide app (Real Tide), consulted my boyfriend who wind surfs about tide direction and checked the weather. My boyfriend and I talked about how the tide would be flooding from north to south so it would make sense to start at the bathhouse and swim south to Lincoln Park. We checked the app for the time at which the tide would be flooding and determined 10 am would be a good starting time at low tide.
Later, I checked in again with the group about swimming the route that weekend. Luckily, the group agreed with the plan! We ended up having a group of about 10 swimmers (socially distanced, of course); I was so grateful so many people could do it.
An Epic Journey!
We got off on a bit of a rough start - my goggles broke just as I was about to put them on, a fellow swimmer got stung in the eye by the lions mane jellyfish you see above - but these were only minor setbacks! I was lucky enough that one of the swimmers also had an extra pair of goggles in her swim bag. While the rest of the swimmers waited patiently in the water, my kind swimmer friends went to grab the extra goggles in the car. Oddly, they fogged up the entire time I swam, for a total of 3 hours and 10 minutes. It didn't matter in the end, because I wouldn't have been able to swim at all without them. The swim was definitely low visibility, with or without foggy goggles! It was a long swim to have limited visibility for - this made things a bit uncomfortable. I've noticed that I'm actually less anxious of lions manes on low visibility swims because I can't actually see them at all. Sometimes, ignorance is bliss!
As for the foggy goggles, I reminded myself that obstacles (even minor ones like this) come up all the time in life - and we continue onwards on our path despite them. This realization gave me a deep sense of faith and security in my resilience and ability to persevere despite temporary discomforts.
Also, this swim taught me about long distance swim planning.
Bring food (I love the Cliff Bar Jelly Bloks, my favorite flavors are orange and the salted watermelon!) and water in your buoy on a long swim.
Plan to have warm clothes at your ending point so you can get out of your swimsuit or wetsuit.
Pack an extra pair of goggles in your swim bag.
At mile 4, I absolutely had to stop and swim to the shore to eat my jelly blocks. I felt as though I wouldn't have been able to keep going without nutrients. I swam to shallow ground and ate, which made me lose everyone in the group. As a result, I ended up swimming the last 1.5 miles or so alone. I kept pushing on!
It also took me almost until the 4 mile mark to start to feel the "sing song," meditative nature of my breathing. This point is when swimming is a true flow state and I feel like I'm becoming one with the water. This sensation is one of the main reasons why I long distance swim. This was also simultaneously the moment when I really started feeling the long swim, as my right shoulder started aching where I injured it months before while assembling a bed. Despite this, I knew I had to keep going in order to reach my goal and swim longer than I had on my previous long swim. The pain wasn't so bad that I could not continue; sometimes we must make these calls as athletes. That last push from Lowman Beach to the Fauntleroy ferry dock felt more difficult and tiring than the rest of the swim. This was the mileage at which the swim became longer than my last. I knew most of this was the mental push to swim more than I did last time. Although it was only about 1 mile difference, I realized how so much of long distance swimming really is mental, and how intimately connected our mental state is to our body.
Swimming to the last hut at Lincoln Park by the ferry terminal, I saw the only lions mane jellyfish that I saw other than the one that stung my friend's eye before we started swimming. I took the lions mane as my cue to finish. I was greeted by a group of swimmers who finished before me on the beach; it was so nice that even though I finished alone, I managed to see other swimmers at the end point!
We celebrated the swim with socially distant tacos at the Taquitos Feliz taco truck in West Seattle. I spent all night basking in a swimmer's high, looking at the wonderful photos that friends had captured, and relishing in our accomplishment! And the day after, I ate maybe ten meals. :)
There will be more swims like this one soon - I'm interested in doing it as much as possible on the weekends before the summer ends! I also loved how so many people joined for various distances - it was a true "choose your own adventure swim." Some people started at the bathhouse and ended at the condos on stilts, others joined at Lowman Beach and swam around the Lincoln Park point. So many people met a goal during this swim or tried something new - I'm proud of you all!
Congrats to all of you amazing, adventure swimmers! You all inspire me and keep me going!