Monday, October 27, 2008

Beware the Buoys

One of my dearest friends did a gorgeous and well-run triathlon this past weekend in Marin. But, he had a near-death experience while attempting to round a buoy in a seriously strong current. So many of us do open water swims, with these buoys that are the size of Volkswagon buses. (I think race directors should make certain that there is a kayak by each buoy now, knowing what can happen). My friend's story was a good reminder for me to avoid getting stuck near a buoy (as I usually cut that turn super close to minimize my swim time), as well as to appreciate how dangerous the races we do are, in general, and to always be physically prepared when I go into a race. My friend is in top physical shape, does Ironman races and all that crazy stuff lots of y'all do :). I am so thankful he is in such great shape: he needed it to save himself yesterday. I'm sharing his story below because I think it is an eye opener for all of us open water swimmers!

***
As I approached the 2nd buoy, considering the first was done, I wasn’t too worried about it - it felt pretty much like a straight line, but I still tried to stay away from it. I ended up on a beeline for the buoy (not realizing there was an angle to the current - on the approach I felt that myself and the current were going parallel to the beach...but that wasn't the case). It seemed that I was just sucked into that buoy. As I hit the buoy, I didn’t think much of it, as I’ve hit them before, and just pushed and swam around them. But not this time. The current was so strong that I caught the buoy and unknowingly the anchor rope; before I knew it I was under water. I went for a breath. It wasn't much of one, as I was immediately pulled back under. Soon I went for another breath. It, also, wasn’t much of one before I got pulled under again, but this time I knew something was wrong. I figured I had one more shot. I went for a third and got one, but was sucked back under quickly. This was it, I felt trapped – something had a hold on me. Not to be overdramatic, but yes things flashed before me - two things. First was my kids and wife, and second was "Oh No, not now, this can’t happen now". Never before in my life have I had this moment of “....oh my god, this is it....it could happen RIGHT NOW,” and I hope never to again. Just as these thoughts were happening, I realized that I was stuck on the rope - the current had pinned me to it, the buoy was keeping me under, and there was nothing I could do about it. I was almost out of air and had nothing to grab for leverage...the current was too strong for me to get unwrapped from the rope. It was the most surreal moment of my life. I didn’t know what to do, there was nothing to grab. Then, unbelievably lucky for me, someone passed above me and I grabbed him, pretty hard, and probably pulled him under, way under, because it was enough for me to get my other hand to the rope, dislodge myself, and pull myself to surface. It was the most crazy experience of my life.

Seriously, if this guy is listening, sorry to pull you under, but thank you for saving my life...there was no way I was getting out without your pull. Thank you.
***

Phew. So, this morning's workout was tough, but I spent it feeling lucky that my friend is alive. Nothing like a once-removed near-death experience to get you through some IM.

*warmup: 250 free followed by 3 x 25's fly, back, breast
repeat 2x

*4 x 50's IM order followed by 3 x 100's free descending
*2 x 100's IM followed by 3 x 100's free descending
*1 x 200 IM followed by 3 x 100's free descending

*4 x 25's IM order followed by 2 x 100's free descending
*8 x 25's IM order followed by 2 x 100's free descending
*4 x 25's IM order followed by 2 x 100's free descending

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