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Swimming with the alligators

Posted Jul 13 2010 6:35pm
…and snakes and giant catfish.

Way back a while ago, Billunit conceived of a really crazy-assed idea.

“Let’s swim across the reservoir.”

“Uh. Why?”

I think the answer was something very creative like, “because it’s there.”

I swim in the Ross Barnett Reservoir once a year. And once a year only. It is a nasty, scummy, murky, artificial body of water filled with all sorts of unfriendly critters. I figure all the crazy people at the Heatwave triathlon scare off all the critters, so we’re safe for half a mile or so.

But, when something like 10 people set out to swim more than 3 ½ miles ACROSS the reservoir, you no longer have that warm cozy feeling you get from safety in numbers.

So, I told Billy, “Not me. But I will be happy to help.”

The months pass. A plan is put together. People are not only interested in doing the lunatic swim, several folks are volunteering their services as kayak or canoe escorts as well. I do my part and ask the yacht club if we can borrow their race buoys. The commodore himself secures the buoys and a boat and takes on the job of placing the buoys to help the swimmers as they make their way across the wide, wide reservoir.

I start to feel like a weenie. But, really. 3 ½ miles? That is a long freakin’ way to swim all at once, and I haven’t swum further than 2-something miles. In a pool. With only the occasional cockroach or beetle. I come up with a compromise.

“I’ll start with y’all. Swim about an hour, and then get in a boat and ride the rest of the way.”

Billy was cool with that.

Finally, the day came. The swim was scheduled for an early Sunday morning to try and get ahead of all the boaters who would probably descend en masse after church let out. We met up at Fannin Landing on the east side of the reservoir. We would swim west toward Madison Landing. Ideally, we were hoping for a clear day and calm water. We had a clear day. Water? A wee bit choppy.

I volunteered to be in the back. Mostly because I was the slowest swimmer of the bunch. Billy, to his credit, decided not to leave me alone at the back and, thus, bait for the alligators, snakes, and giant catfish. I figured he owed me. I ran every step of MS Blues with him this year, making sure he got his first marathon finish in less than ideal conditions .

We posed for a picture before the swim. I was smiling. Not sure why.

Then, we were off. There was no “official” start as this was just a swim. The various canoes and kayaks were life savers. We each had our own escort, and I have decided that it would be really great if we could do the same for triathlons. Once I realized my canoe would effectively lead me where I needed to go, I never had to sight again. It was awesome. And Billy, true to his word, stuck with me for the full 41 minutes that I swam. I then climbed into the yacht club boat and sent him on his way.

Me and my canoe.
Please don’t tell anybody else, but I really enjoyed that swim. Would I have enjoyed it if I had swum nearly 2 hours more? Probably not. But I certainly could have (and should have) swum at least a full hour, if not even further to try and get beyond halfway. As it was, it didn’t look like I got very far at all. So, next time…

We hung out in the boat, Roy (the JYC Commodore) and Hubby pulling and re-placing buoys as swimmers continued across. One swimmer was so fast, they would hardly place a buoy before he would zoom past it. He finished in under 2 hours. A couple of swimmers probably added a mile or so to their totals, as they decided to tour a good part of the reservoir rather than swim a straight line. (Although, something that big is really hard to swim straight.)

A little more than 2 hours later, everyone was done. Another group picture. I am smiling because I am not nearly as tired as the others.

Everyone thought this was a great idea and has encouraged Billy to do it again and maybe make it a more formal “event.” We’ll see…but I’ll definitely put my lot in again and swim with the ‘gators.
Billy...the [evil] mastermind.
Last week’s totals. It was an easy week, made easier by the fact that I skipped my 2-hour easy bike ride on Sunday and took a nap instead. That swim wore me out.

Swim: 2:17:14 (5,801 yards)
Bike: 1:00:00 (19 miles)
Run: 62:50:12 (16.51 miles)
Total: 6:07:26
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