(Part I here.)
Swim the Suck actually starts on the Friday before. This is when packet pick-up and (evil carb) pasta dinner happens. If you don’t know your kayaker, this is also the time to meet him or her. And of course it is time for the race briefing.
That right there is the “Suckiest Suckster,” the one swimmer who has done every StS since the beginning. She’s describing the course. This briefing is pretty in-depth. When I first did StS back in 2012, I was so thankful that Karah takes the time to brief so thoroughly. I now am thankful that she’s still briefing it that way, and I like how she’s letting XXX brief the course. Nice touch. But the most amazing thing? And I’m not sure if it’s been like this for a few years, but I can tell you this was not part of the briefing in 2012: Swim giveaways.
Odds weren’t bad, compared to something like a lottery. Every swimmer had a chance to win an entry to SCAR, or Swim Hobbs Island, or Bridges to Bluffs, or a Viking swim. I mean really, holy crap. SCAR itself is worth $1500. The Viking swim includes paying for the boat escort. Jesus, how I hoped that one of the winners would announce that they couldn’t accept so that I got another chance at winning one of those swims! Beggars can’t be choosers, though; I was lucky to even get this spot in StS this year.
Karah is an esteemed marathon swimmer in her own right, so we are lucky to get her not only as the race director but as the briefer. And from her years of experience, she’s got a lot of great advice. Her best is illustrated below.
Can’t get much better advice than that right there.
Karah got the food catered and there were no complaints anywhere in the room. My aunt, uncle and I had eaten a late lunch so weren’t too hungry. And me eating LCHF, I opted for the salad. It was good, but damn did the meat sauce for the pasta look good. I seriously contemplated taking a plastic cup and filling it, but I chose to behave. Instead I decided to eat one of the homemade cookies they had there, chocolate chip.
The briefing took about an hour, to be followed up with a briefing by Dr. Andreas Fath. Dr Fath has swum the entire length of the Tennessee River while doing a study on water quality. I did want to listen in to his briefing, but it was already 7pm and I wanted to get back to the AirBnB and rest.
We made our way back to the house and settled in. We had already gone over my gear and needs. I briefed them on my rules: Let me swim for an hour, then feed me every 30 minutes from then on. Never tell me how far I’ve gone, in distance or time. Stay to my right, between 2 and 4 o’clock. If I need food I’ll either tell you during a feed or shout it while breathing. Don’t engage me in trivial conversation while feeding. At the 1:30 feed, ask me if I’ve peed and if I haven’t yet, ask me every feed until I have peed. Simple.
I also told them to not be offended if I was short with them. I just want to put my head down and swim after a feed, so I’ll throw the bottle back to you. We had the bottle on a nylon thin rope. It worked great. At one point in the swim, I ended up talking more, but I’ll get into that in part III.
Then I went to bed. At a pretty decent hour, 10:30-ish. I expected to not sleep and I failed to bring melatonin, so figured I’d be tired the next day. However, when the alarm rang at 5:15am, I was initially shocked to be on my wife’s side of the bed. Then I remembered I’m not home, but in Chattanooga and realized that I slept all the way through! This is gonna be the start of something great…