Monday, August 18, 2014

Bear Lake Monster Swim, a report by Joelle Beard

Bear Lake, Utah is probably my favorite open water place to swim. I love how clean and clear the
water is, and I think the surrounding area is beautiful as well. July and August are great times to swim up there because the water temperature is from the upper 60s to mid 70s. So when registration for the Bear Lake Monster Swim on July 19th became available, I immediately registered for the race! This was to be the third year of the race and my second time competing in the race. I love these events because they are not only fun, but they are a great way to get to know other open water swimmers.

I was able to go up to Bear Lake the night before and have dinner with some of the participants, which was fun for me, because until about a year ago, I did all of my open water swims alone and was not aware that there were others around who were into open water swimming. It has been fun to be able to make new friends through open water swimming. I was excited this year to see so many people show up; there were so many more than the previous year.

Because I love Bear Lake so much, this was just going to be a fun swim for me. I didn't really care about my time too much or pushing it too hard. I was still somewhat recovering from another swim. On Saturday morning during the check-in I had someone come and tap me one the back, saying hello. I turned around to see two of the kids I coach swimming standing there. They were there to support their mom, who was swimming. Knowing that two of my athletes would be there made me feel like I should actually push it a bit more.

At 8:00 a.m. the relay teams entered the water and lined up for their start; five minutes later all of the solos lined up waist deep in the water for the swim. I was the furthest swimmer to the left, which was
fine, because I breathe to my left more often. It was fun at the start, everyone was chatting and having fun; the swimmers were all acting as friends, not opponents. I loved it! When the race first started I didn't push super hard because I didn't want to be stuck in the crowd with everyone else. That meant it didn't take long for everyone to pull ahead of me. I didn't realize I was almost last until I stopped to get a drink and my paddler told me. I immediately started playing catch-up. I started pushing it harder. I realized I couldn't go my "forever" pace for the whole race. The conditions were great and it was so fun to swim. It was so beautiful to be swimming in the morning light with the water being smooth and actually pretty warm. I have seen and swam through some pretty big waves in Bear Lake, but this day was perfect!

I always swim in green Swedish goggles, no matter where I am swimming. Sometimes in the bright light of the sun I cannot see very well with them, because they are so light colored. They can also fog up pretty badly. This made it hard for me to see anything if I would look ahead to spot; all I could really see was whatever was to the side as I would breathe. I could see other swimmers and I could see my paddler, but nothing ahead, so to speak of. So when my paddler started calling for me to really push hard for the rest of the swim, I didn't want to listen. I could finally see a little bit, and I could tell that I was still quite far from the shore. Finally after several minutes I decided I would pick up the pace, but I didn't think I could hold it all the way to the end. That was when I saw some rocks under me. It was already getting shallow. I really was close to the end. I pushed hard to the finish and didn't stop until my hands hit the ground.

I was able to stay at the beach for a while and cheer others on as they finished as well. I had a fun swim and was only a little slower than my goal time, but one of the best things was being able to become friends with some of the participants and be able to share my love of swimming with others as well.