SwimVacation guide Dave Barra thinks big. For fun, he swims 20 or 30 miles in lake or sea. He’s often coming up with ideas for big swims during our week, and he and I often have lengthy negotiations about what our guests should/could handle. This morning he proposed a 3-mile swim from Cooper Island, around the “back” of Salt Island, ending at the wreck of the Rhone. I looked around at our guests. Hardy types: resilient, solid swimmers. They’ve also been swimming in fairly tight groups, none too much faster or slower than the other. So I said ok, let’s do it. The first mile of our swim was along the west side of Cooper Island, most of which I’d never swum. It’s not often visited, and the coral is fabulous. The water was crystal clear again. We all gathered at the end of the first mile, just before the crossing between Cooper and Salt. We had a lot of support for this swim; 4 swimming guides, guest Craig in a kayak, deckhand Bob in the dinghy, and The Promenade following along. Dave gave some instructions on navigation and pointed out wind and swell direction. We all took a slug of water and bore down for the crossing.
A few distinct groups formed, and I found myself swimming with Yafa on a good line. The swell was building, and a couple of waves broke over us. From atop the waves I could see all the guides and swimmers. The struggle was to stay “high” enough into the wind to get to Salt Island without having to swim back up into the weather. About 1/2 way across, Craig paddled over in his kayak and we took a short water break. We swam more as I encouraged Yafa, my lone charge, to stay left. She likes when I call her Princess, so I threw a lot of that in. She stayed left, so I think it helped.
We rendezvoused again when we reached Salt Island, counted heads, and swam for the next point. I couldn’t believe how strong all of our swimmers looked. I saw lots of grit and determination in their strokes and faces, and the finish wasn’t even in sight yet. One last corner to swim around, and the wreck of the Rhone was beneath us. I’ll write more about that tomorrow.
Congrats were shared as we climbed back aboard Promenade, some 2 hours and 45 minutes after we had jumped off her. For most of our swimmers, this is the farthest they had ever swum. They dove into brunch with big appetites.
They rest of the day and night rolled along lazily. Naps, books, and beach combing were popular. We woke everyone (ok, that was a lie, they had to wake me) to take stroke video of our guides and guests for viewing later. A 40 minute swim along shore revealed the great shallow coral gardens here, filled with all kinds of life. The octopi were elusive, however. We did see a big spotted eagle ray, a small nurse shark, and a rare (heather please fill this in) (Juvenile Spotted Drum - HP). Also, Squid!
Dave led our stroke clinic, as we all watched our stroke videos on the big TV in the salon. Tips and pointers were given out. Notes were taken. Dave gives advice on how to swim efficiently for long distances, which is different from swimming for speed.
A late dinner and an early bedtime for all. Tomorrow we swim back to The Rhone to dive on her. I’m enjoying this group a lot.
PS. Some exciting news for us: Heather's cool swimming photographs AND this SwimVacation blog are featured on National Geographic: Proof today. Check it out!