First Open Water Swim of the Season

From October through June, if you’re a triathlete and if you live in the North East, you tend to swim in a pool. I’ve been going to the Nassau County Aquatic Center all season. I really enjoy it there because there are a variety of lane lengths there — 25 yards, 25 meters and 50 meters. But the other day, I decided to go out to the open water at Toby Beach with Tarps Total Training (TTT)

Open Water LI started their open water trainings at Heckscher Park on Saturday mornings but since I organize Team Galloway LI, I am unable to attend. They’ve been going out for more than a month.

It’s been relatively cold here so I haven’t had the desire to “jump in.” In addition to that, I was scheduled for my first race in July but due to the fact that I sold my home and was frantically looking to buy another, I decided it was in my best interest to defer until next year. So, I was in no rush to get in.

But, since TTT announced that they were starting open water at Tobay on Thursday evenings, I decided to go out and give it a try.

I have to admit I was nervous. Will I remember how to put on my wetsuit? Will I remember to spray my neck? Will I be able to swim in a buoyant position? What if the water is too cold and I can’t put my face in? As you can see, I was making myself crazy!

I got to Tobay Beach at 6:15 pm. I quickly unloaded my car and started to spray myself up with TriGlide. Then I got my ROKA wetsuit and started to put it on. It wasn’t as bad as I remember. I was able to get it on pretty good but then came the zipper part. I asked one of the women for help. When she had a little trouble, she asked someone else and two people were behind me trying to zipper up. At first, I felt a little embarrassed, but that quickly washed away. Who cares?

Even standing with the wetsuit on, I was still feeling nervous. What if I have a panic attack in the water? What if the water is too cold? The air was cool. It was in the high 60’s, low 70’s. I realized I forgot my towel. (At this point last year, I was taking off my wetsuit and turning around to go home. But this time, I didn’t. So what? Do I really need a towel?)

I saw Shawn and Nigel, the group leaders. I walked with Shawn until we got to the rest rooms and just stood there. I saw a couple sitting bundled up on the sand. “I can’t believe I’m going to go in there,” I said.

“Yeah, it must be freezing,” the guy said to me.

Freezing? OMG, am I really doing this? Maybe I should wait?

Nigel passed me with his surf board and headed into the water. I followed him. A couple of other people were standing in the water too. “Okay, let’s do this,” Nigel said. He told us to go to the white buoy as a warm up.

Last year, I could barely make it out to the white buoy toward the end of the year. Would I be able to do it this year?

I fell into the water. It wasn’t bad. It actually felt refreshing. It wasn’t cold at all!

I started to swim and by the time I looked up, I was at the white buoy. Wow, that felt good!

We then, took it back into the current and onto the beach. Shawn had us do a couple of drills, running onto the beach and coming back into the water, circling around, going from beach to beach in the water. The bottom line, the longer I was out there, the more efficient I became. Even after going more than 2500 yards, I wasn’t tired. I wanted to keep going. I was in my happy place. I forgot how wonderful it felt to be in the open water and the sense of freedom that you get in the water.

When we ended, I just wanted to scream and shout and do a crazy dance on the beach to celebrate finally being relaxed and happy and yet, I held myself back. I gave Shawn and Nigel the thumbs up and thanked them for an amazing night!