Got up at 0515 and Patricia and I were out the door by 0530. The drive and traffic were optimal so we arrived a few minutes early. Mainly walked around and talked with Rob to kill time. As more arrived, the excitement grew. We did notice that the currents had changed a bit from the previous day and would probably not be in our favor. Once almost everyone had arrived, we had a safety briefing and a drawing for prizes. I won a wool cap and a energy drink powder!
Around 0730, we all loaded up into different vehicles and started our long trek to the start point. There is no direct route so we had to take the "scenic" route to the start. This meant over an hour in the van either on the interstate or on Antelope Island heading toward the start. Once we arrived, there were several people there and they all were wearing bug net hats...not good. We unloaded as fast as we could then had to walk a bit to the start. I could not get greased and ready for the start fast enough. The mud was comical how bad it was and the bugs were obviously hungry.
Once we waded out about 1/2 mile, Gords said it was time to go. We all counted down from 15 hoping the people on shore would hear us and start the time relatively close to ours.
We're off! I'm excited and I still can touch the bottom a bit but I just shorten my stroke until it gets deeper. There was a small group of us that were clumped up together and sure enough, even though I had joked about it the day before, I found myself directly behind Rob drafting off him. I did this for probably 25 yards before making a sharp turn to stay level with him but not get his draft. There are no "official" rules on drafting for these events but it is just generally accepted that you don't draft off people. This isn't a triathlon!!
I got into a nice groove and told my wife to stop me every 30 minutes for hydration and food.
I found that for the first 3 miles, I was about 50 meters behind but keeping about the same pace as Rob. He would be a bit ahead of me then I'd pass him when he drank then vice versa. After 3 miles he dropped me. (He later admitted that this is when he finally warmed up!)
I just kept plugging along and focusing on mainly my stroke. There was a decent current that was going against us the first 3 miles or so and that was not fun. It took most of us 50 minutes to get to the 1.5 mile point! SLOW!! I did some calculations in my head and decided that if this keeps up, I'll be lucky to finish under 5 hours.
About mile 4 and 5 the water got a bit more shallow and VERY clear. I could see every detail of the lake floor and it was just beautiful. I found myself going from a 3 stroke bilateral breathing to 4 or 5 stroke breathing just so I could look at the floor longer. Those miles went by quick.
About 3 miles to go, Patricia spotted Blackrock way out in the distance and that made us very happy. The end is near! I told her to stop me every mile now instead of 30 minutes. I was getting thirsty and hungry at a faster pace plus my tongue was now officially swollen up and useless. All drinks stung a bit and all food was "sharp" no matter what the texture was.
Patricia did a FANTASTIC job of keeping me going on the straightest line possible into Blackrock. She did a fantastic job kayaking for me and even kept her cool when I was "less than patient" with my food transitions. I honestly can't thank her enough for how great she did and she'll never know how much it helps having her there next to me guiding me the whole way. I pretty much never had to spot check my direction because she was doing so great.
When I was near the end, the water got shallow enough to just walk out the last 50 yards. I kept swimming as much as I could and when I got near the shore, no one came near me to help until I had completely cleared the water. THANK YOU!! I was then greeted by Gords, Josh, and most importantly, my family. My father in law and 2 of my sisters in law came bringing my 2 daughters with them. They have NO idea how much that meant to me.
I finished in 6th place with an official time of 4:31:52. I was happy with my time considering the current and was very happy with my place. Right in the dead middle!
There was a small spread of fruit and bagals waiting for us but unfortunately, I couldn't taste any of them. I just knew to keep eating them and drinking the "flavorless" Gatorade. I hung out for awhile and watched everyone else finish. It was a great day and the making of a lifetime memory.
This was a historic swim and the fist time this swim had been done as an official race/swim in 70 years!
Lastly, I want to thank Gords and Josh for all the work it took putting this together. I know it was a lot. I want to thank my family for coming out to support me. Most important, I want to thank my wife for being my paddler. You have no idea how much it meant to me and how you just being there inspired me. I was actually asked today in church if I ever hit a "wall" during the swim. I can honestly say 2 things. 1) No I did not. 2) I firmly believe my wife being there was a big reason why I never did. Thank you Patricia, I love you! WE DID IT!!!