I flew out of San Luis Obispo super early Friday morning, slept through a couple flights, and landed in Salt Lake City by 10:30am. I grabbed my bag and met Gords along with his wife and one of his sons outside. They were driving a convertible VW Bug which was cool because it was a beautiful day and it gave me a chance to get reacquainted with fresh air after being cooped up on regional jets and prop planes.
We drove into downtown SLC and they took me to lunch. I’d met Gords before in person at the Open Water Safety Conference back in March in San Francisco, but this gave me a better chance to talk and get to know him and the fam a little better. Afterwards we cruised the city a little bit so I could at least see it all from the car, then we were off to get some of the kayaks that we were taking to the marina for Saturday.
Down at the Marina we were met by some of the other guys either swimming or setting up the course. There were kayaks to set aside, buoys to lay out, and other pre-swim type things like that. Goody, who is one of the local guys that was entered in the 8 mile swim, came out and we had a good time chatting out in the parking lot. He was interested in a short swim and I was totally on board with that. I really wanted to meet the lake, get a feel for that salty water and see what I’d need to be ready for come Saturday’s race.
I suited up, applied probably too much Body Glide and wandered down the boat ramp. Goody was already floating out in the water. Earlier Gords had measured 69-70 at the ramp, it felt chillier down by my feet, but still super comfy. I waded in waist deep and then tossed myself headlong into the water and dolphin kicked out a way. I could totally taste the salt and although I wasn’t a fan it wasn’t really what I expected. It was really salty, but it was a smooth salty… some reason I thought it’d be a little crunchier or something.
Once I was out a little ways Goody told me to quit moving and just float. Wow. Totally weird how much you’re supported by that salty water! I could put my hands and feet up and float with no effort on my part, pretty cool!
Eventually we decided to actually swim a bit. We stroked down the marina to the mouth that opens into the rest of the lake. We were aiming for a red buoy a little ways out. The water temp got a little patchy out here but even at it’s worst I thought it was really nice out there.
When we got to the buoy we just hung out and shot the breeze. While doing so we drifted a fairly substantial distance towards Black Rock. This was actually a pretty good deal since that’s where we were going to be swimming the next day. Although the lake had been very smooth and glassy when I originally arrived, things had started to pick up with lots of chop and current… at least it was going the right way.
Once we’d drifted far enough away we swam it back to the buoy and then swam back into the marina. I followed Goody in since it seemed a little tricky to navigate just because it’s almost impossible to distinguish the opening from the rest of the wall at a distance.
After the swim I geeked out over all the salt crust on me and then we made a run for something to eat. When we got back other 8 milers were hanging out. They had to drop off kayaks and stuff like that between 4 and 5 and just about everybody made an appearance. We all congregated up on the pavement and talked about the swim and other events we’ve done recently or have on the agenda.
After a little while a lot of the folks that had shown up later wanted to take a dip too. I decided to go with them. One because I just wanted too :) and two because they didn’t have a local tagging along and at least I’d been out once and could at least be helpful in pointing out where to go.
We ended up with Suzie, Joe, Sylvia, John and myself in the water. We started with the obligatory float in the salt, but then followed essentially the exact same route as Goody and I. We did have to stop a lot more for boats though. We had a few come through and had to group up and hug the sides of the marina to let them pass. At this point boats with all the kayaks for the next day took off for Antelope Island to drop them off so they’d be waiting for us tomorrow.
Outside the mouth of the marina we headed to the same buoy and went through the same driftage. It was a good opportunity for the out of towner crowd to get their bearings as to what the local geography looked like.
The current was actually stronger for this outing that my first one. You really had to angle into it on the way back to the marina to make sure you didn’t get too close to the rocks that line it. We regrouped just inside and then swam it back in to the boat ramp.
Out on the ramp we kept talking a little bit and got hosed off. I went over to Gords’ van to grab my towel… locked… uh oh. Major tactical error on my part. I was all excited to go swimming and didn’t make sure to leave some of my stuff out since he was about to embark on a small boat adventure. I dried off in the air pretty quickly but was lacking in the shirt and pants department. Joe, Suzie and Sylvia kept me company for a while but had to go get Suzie’s brother from the airport who was flying in to kayak for her. They were worried about leaving me, but the weather was nice and I was fine just hanging out so they took off to the airport.
After a while they ended up coming back because Suzie’s brother wanted to take a dip in the Salt Lake. At this point they decided to abduct me since I was still stuck. In the course of half an hour I managed to borrow a race t-shirt, shorts that were way too small and shoes that fit just right. We made our way into town and since my wallet was safely locked away they let me freeload my way through dinner. Afterwards we caught up with Gords and he scooped me up from their hotel. The quick boat trip to Antelope Island had turned into quite the ordeal for everybody involved since the water is so shallow out there and they had to get the kayaks through the last big stretch to shore without the help of the boat. When we got back to the Marina Gords had already set up our tent and had a cot ready for me to crash out on. All told a pretty exciting day… the motto of the day was “every swim is an adventure,” I’m pretty sure Friday had no problem living up to that :)