Day has come. Got up at a reasonable hour. Didn’t have to rush. All in all, a great start to the day. And the weather was sked to be nice and sunny.
Drive down was a breeze, except for this area’s disdain for rest stops. But we left plenty early to take a detour to a cute little town called North Kingstown where we stopped at a 7/11. Still arrived at Mackerel Cove a few minutes before the 12 noon deadline. Got our boat off the car and gear inside it, then headed over to the finish at Ft. Getty park, where we left the car and registered for the event.
Mike Garr did a bang up job with this. My friend Bridget was there to be the timer and to organize registration/treats/everything. We signed our liability waivers, got our briefing and started back to Mac Cove. It was less than a mile.
The weather was still great. The beach was full of people and families enjoying the day, and we were ready to go. One swimmer started an hour earlier than us, at 1pm, but the remaining seven of us would start at 2pm. At the briefing, Mike mentioned that there was a green buoy that we had to swim around off the point, but that was 5.5k into the swim, so once we got there we knew we were over halfway. Also, tide was coming in, and high tide was at about 4:15, so we really wanted to take no longer than 2 hours to get to the buoy.
Everyone was ready so we got to start early! This was great as I knew I was probably gonna swim this in four hours, so the sooner I got to the buoy the better. The wind and waves were gonna hit us in the face the first half, so we were all prepared for a fight, with the hope of an easier swim on the back half.
Got my wife in the water with the kayak and minutes later we started. A group of six twenty-somethings asked us where we were swimming to, and were duly impressed when we answered. We walked out quite a bit and before long I just jumped in and swam.
Started out great! None of the “why the hell do I do this” thoughts. Just nice even swimming. But before long, the water turned against me. Those waves were rough. Washing machine. Actually, I like swimming in that, all other things being good (water temp, nutrition, peeing). It’s a challenge and I feel like I really earned the swim after fighting the waves and current. There have been times at Revere that I’ve swum 1.5 miles in a very slow time, but more than half of it into rough water so I feel ok with my speed. This swim’s first half was like that.
My poor wife though. I didn’t know till after, because she made it look easy, but she was fighting the waves and current as well. No time for stopping or giving her arms a break. Until this event, her sum total of kayak experience was one hour and 15 minutes. After the swim, her upper body was feeling it!
Also unbeknownst to me, she had to watch me close. There were many powerboats and even sailboats that had to be warned off (reminded, also) that there were swimmers in the water. She said some of the boaters were mad about us. Eight swimmers. Once per year. Get over yourselves.
Even at one point I looked up because I thought I’d seen a black fin. Turns out it was 3 or 4 snorkelers. In full wetsuits including neoprene caps. In 75F water. She told me at the end when they saw her coming, they told her she’ll have to go around them. Like they were doing Navy Seals workouts or something! She guffawed and told them, “Uh, no, I’m escorting a swimmer. You can go around us.” God I love that woman.
The area I swam by was freaking beautiful. By this point the reader might be asking, Why is it called Beavertail? Let’s take a look at the map.
Now if you take that map and turn it 90 degrees clockwise, you’ll see the semiaquatic rodent.
Getting to that damn buoy took me over 2:30 and it felt so good to be there I almost kissed the buoy, if it weren’t so rusty and probably against marathon swimming rules. I was so ready for some with-current swimming. Got a feed in and proceeded to swim. Unfortunately, I was stuck in an eddy. Or something.
My wife had to come back to me and let me know that I was swimming in place, with the buoy not receding. So my fight was not over yet. Sigh…
Push push push and I was finally in water helping me. The southernmost point features a beautiful lighthouse that I simply could not stop staring at. Unfortunately I spent a lot of time staring at it. Once past it we still had to swim out to the buoy, which must have been 500m or so away. Took me just about 1000 strokes. Then coming back the other side took forever. We didn’t really have a good idea where exactly the finish was with respect to the point of Beavertail. Every feature directly in front of me I hoped was the end. I had been sick to my stomach since the third feeding (2:00). Nothing was helping; not Justin’s nut butters, not orange or raspberry crystal light. Was just so nauseous.
I was kind of keeping up with the feeds. I got off my every-30-minutes sked after the 2:00 feeding. Was so close to the buoy I didn’t want to stop until after. Somewhere around what I thought would have been 4 hours of swimming I knew I was gonna go past 4:00 and maybe even 5:00. I was getting worried. My stomach wasn’t getting any better. My lower back was starting to get to me.
I stopped at one point and saw the bright and beautiful two white signs saying Caution: Race in Progress, our finish. I asked my wife if that was truly the end and she said yes. I was due a feed but I waved her off. Just wanted to finish.
The beach was terribly rocky and I had trouble standing. That and both my calves were cramping up. I was dead last, but only behind swimmers #5 and #6 by 21 minutes. 4:37. Ugh.
Everyone was so nice. Love this community, the Sachuest Ocean Swimmers. My friend Bridget had so many treats of the carb kind that I stuffed into my face. Jane made blueberry crumble that was to die for.
Next mission was to decrew the kayak, load the car, and find a bathroom for my poor wife. She’d gone way too long. Unfortunately, the bathrooms at Mackerel Cove were closed so we drove until we found a gas station. My poor wife.
In case my dear reader(s) think that only Mike Scott took pictures, rest assured my crew did too. We bought one of those pockets for an iPhone through which you can still manipulate the screen. My wife was too busy paddling during the first half but she took a couple on the back half. I think they turned out really good.