So this morning I took part in the annual Reconciliation Day that had been held over due to adverse conditions on the 16 December. The Reconciliation Day swim forms part of the Freedom Swim Series (previously Cadiz Swim Series) that present Sea Swims of varying distances including the Big Daddy of them all the Freedom Day Swim that is the swim from Robben Island to Big Bay and 7.5km in distance. A bucket list swim for any Openwater swimming enthusiast. That’s another post in the making though……
@Beanker and I arrived at Clifton 3rd Beach and conditions were perfect with no wind and a smooth Ocean surface with a small swell. The North Westerly had whipped up the previous 2 days and assisted in bringing some warmer water back in the Bay and upping the temperature a little to a pleasant 14.8 C. This was compared to our Sunday swim with the 1soms group that had been a chilly 12C. We signed in and got prepped for the longer course of 3.2km with many others taking part in the standard mile (1600m) and then a shorter 800m which was a nice offering for those cutting their openwater teeth.
The race briefing indicated a slight change of route with no rounding of Barker Rocks on the long course, which was a little disappointing but understandable. The course was triangular and swum in a clockwise direction with both the Mile and 3.2km races starting at the same time. I decided right from the get go that enjoyment and comfort were paramount. I put on my hood before the start and my swim cap over it. I was admittedly nervous after a terrible swim on the previous Sunday and felt very underprepared having done little swimming over 1.5km per swim due to rehab on a neck injury. I really wanted to have a good swim though and put in a good time too so I decided to ease into the swim and then when I felt comfortable push a little and see how my body reacted. I was thankful for the warmth and added buoyancy of my Coral Benguela.
We headed into the water as the organisers counted down and it was great to bump into merman @bryanallot looking as focussed as ever. I said howzit and chirped that he should give the rest of us a chance after all I swear the guy has gills. I put some water in my wetsuit and then swam a couple of strokes waiting for the mad dash but got caught unawares as a big pack of swimmers that i thought were warming up had started seemingly unbeknown to the rest of us still entering the water. Oh well I thought and headed off…
I love openwater swimming and in particular swimming in the Ocean. There are so many reasons I love the experience but in particular being in the Ocean makes me feel at peace. It’s almost like time stands still and the blue tones of the water provide a soothing effect on my mind and spirit. Or maybe it is the cold water numbing the senses lol.
The stretch to the first two bouys felt longer than expected and sighting was admittedly difficult so I was thankful for a couple of swimmers nearby and the SUP that was accompanying us. There was a little bit of pitching from the swells refracting around the rocks and into Clifton and after the 2nd right-hand buoy turn we had the swell on our feet and it was fun gliding with the swells when they came along as we headed to Barker Rocks. I was feeling pretty comfortable and warmed up at this stage and decided to pull a little harder and after a slight inward turn I headed slightly left to round the third buoy on the right shoulder and head back to the beach. I decided that as I was feeling quite good and not tight or fatigued I decided to kick a little harder and drop the 3 swimmers that had been with me since the second buoy. Cruising along I occasionally got distracted looking down at the deep blue and changing colours around me. It was at times like getting a little vertigo staring down and wondering how deep we were. It was the furthest out in the Bay I had ever been and swimming back towards land with few swimmers around was a little unnerving to say the least although I was more concerned about swimming skew and not the best line. I was pleased to see after a while when sighting from the top of a swell that there were two wetsuited swimmers some distance ahead of me duelling it out and figured it may well be @paulingpen most likely taking on a young whipper snapper.
The last straight back to the beach went by quite quickly and before long I was asked by a polite lifeguard on a SUP to move slightly right to avoid body surfing over some rocks. Yes the tide was pretty low and with the washed up kelp and seaweed it was difficult to see what was soft and what was hard. I bodysurfed a small swell into the seaweed pileup and felt punch drunk as I got up feeling slightly legless stumbling onto the beach. I stopped my Garmin in just under 53 mins and trotted up to the table to announce my arrival.
I headed back down and waited for @beanker to arrive secretly hoping she wouldn’t tap me on the shoulder to ask what had taken me so long.
@bryanallott seemed to have taken me a little too literally and took a wrong turn resulting in more distance but still won the wetsuit category with @paulingpen coming in 2nd. Well done guys!
Congratulations to the Freedom Swim Series team on a well organised and safe event. Bring on 2015 and more awesome Ocean Swims. Have a great end to 2014 and see you out there again in 2015.