I keep needing to reassure myself that I can do this openwater swimming thing.
So every Thursday morning I wake up early, I tell myself that the nausea in my tummy is just nerves, I tell myself that, although its not yet light, that the sharks will not be out at Manly and I propel myself into my swimmers and out the door.
As I drive along the coast to Manly I try not to look at the waves crashing up against each of the headlands I pass and when I get to Queenscliffe I glance briefly at the ocean to reassure myself the waves up to the beach are only small.
I slide into my wetsuit at the southern end of Manly beach despite being the only swimmer still feeble enough to justify a wetsuit at this time of year. I dip my toe in the ocean, allow it to fill my wetsuit and start to breathe as deeply as possible to overcome the inevitable panic that comes as I feel ice cold water and get buffeted around by the odd wave that curls around the headland to the shore.
When the rest of the 6.30am Bold and Beautiful swimmers dash past me I take a deep breathe, look for my friend who knows I can only breathe on one side so she has to be on that side so I can see her and we swim out to the point. There the rest take a break to let the slow ones catch up – since I am one of the slow ones because I will have done several metres by this point doing only breast-stroke to calm down, I catch up to them and then slide into my rhythm as we swim the 750m to Shelley Beach.
I dare not lift my head to sight off the land – I rely on my fiend for that but gradually, ever so gradually, I realise that once again I will survive the open water 1500m return swim to Shelley and back. I realise that I am lucky to be out at such a beautiful time of the day, I know I am lucky to have friends to support me and I know that I will be back – next week, to do the whole thing again.
And just to prove I was there today – here is a photo of our little team – I am the one in the goggles not yet sure whether I am happy to be there or not – look at my face, not quite a smile – maybe one day I will be grinning from ear to ear about an openwater swim!!!
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