Torture Swim 2013

I put my face in the water and thought, “Just don’t throw up.”

In retrospect, I guess that wasn’t the best way to start something nicknamed “Torture Swim,” already feeling kind of ill.  But it wasn’t feeling bad enough to be labeled “sick” when I woke up; I just felt like my stomach was carrying a load of rocks.  That was all.  It wasn’t until I was in the water, and the way that it smelled and the way that it moved… oh my goodness, I was so nauseous.  I just kept thinking, Don’t throw up, Bethany, just don’t throw up.  But if you have to… that’s okay, too.

The swim from The Speckled Door and the sailing excursion left me very familiar with the waters around Sandycove.  I knew I couldn’t get lost.  I knew I would always know where I was.  It wouldn’t be like last year, at all.  The sun was shining.  It was a beautiful day!  The water was calm; no wind.  It wouldn’t be like last year at all.

Just don’t throw up.

We were sent clockwise around the Island and up the bay into the mouth of the creek and back to the slipway and back to the Island.  I am never really sure of time when I swim, but this day in particular was hard to judge.  I was getting thirsty, but thinking about putting anything into my stomach seemed like a bad idea too.

I am not sick.  I am not.  I told myself sternly.  Just don’t throw up. But if you have to, that’s okay, too.

I made myself a deal that if I threw up, I would get out immediately.  I was starting to feel so tired then.  It had to be more than two hours by now.  My eyes were oh-so-heavy, and I closed them sleepily.  Tired and thirsty and sick.  In hindsight, I probably didn’t drink enough water, because I just didn’t feel quite good enough to get it all down.  I was a little afraid then, worrying if I might be dehydrated from the record-setting heat wave Ireland had had in the past week.  That fear got to me.  I’d learned that lesson the hard way after Tampa Bay Swim’s warmer water.

Now, stop, I told myself.  Stop, stop!  Everything is fine.  I’m safe.  I’m strong.  I’ve had plenty to drink.  It’s only going to be about three hours, anyway.  If I don’t become my own enemy, I can do anything.

If I don’t become my own enemy, I can do anything.

I closed my eyes wearily and swam on.

And then I was punched in the face.

My goggles shoved back into my eye sockets and filled with water.  I immediately had a headache.  It took me a second to come vertical after the impact.  I wondered what had happened and moved my goggles aside to find a very concerned Irish lady in a wetsuit, just out for a happy swim in the sunshine.  She apologized profusely for hitting me; she hadn’t expected people to be going clockwise around the Island.  I apologized, too, and we continued on our separate ways.

I swam away kind of laughing to myself.  I was definitely awake now.

I was a little concerned that maybe I’d been forgotten about on the back side of the Island.  I hadn’t had any water yet, and I was sure it was past time for that.  A boat finally came and found me, gave me some water and sent me off with directions that seemed clear enough at the time.

So I swam out of Sandycove and away from the island, following the cliff face out toward larger waters.  The boat stayed in Sandycove, and I saw no other swimmers and no other boats.

I was convinced I needed to catch up to somebody or something.  I thought Ned had said there was a fishing boat I needed to pass and I should keep the ‘cliffs on my left.’  When I got to the bay next to Sandycove, I saw a boat on the other side of the wide expanse of the open bay.  I started to swim out toward it and got about halfway across, when suddenly boats were everywhere around me, crossing the bay.

I waved at somebody on a sailing boat who came just a little too near.  He did a doubletake, like he didn’t expect to see a buoy waving at him.  It occurred to me, then, that Ned would probably not want me to swim alone across the bay, and that – more than likely – the fishing boat had moved.  And I was supposed to swim somewhere else.

I replayed Ned’s instructions.  I knew where I was; I could always head back to Sandycove.  They knew where I was, too and would come find me if I was lost.  I steered myself back toward the shore I had left.  I decided, then, to continue along that shore until I either found somebody or the boat came back.

If I don’t become my own enemy, I can do anything.

Just don’t throw up.

It wasn’t very long until I came upon some swimmers.  I felt encouraged by that.  The boat did find me too.  Goodness!  I was glad I hadn’t made it across that bay, after all.  I was directed back to Sandycove, and I swam strong and steady all the way back into shore, despite the nausea and the tired and the lingering headache from the impact of being punched in the face.

Unfortunately, even though I was on shore, the battle in my head wasn’t done.  I was glad and felt accomplished at the end of the swim, but I still felt sick and kind of dazed.  I’d been swimming for 4+ hours, I learned.  I was spent.  My body didn’t want to do anything – talk or laugh or smile – all I wanted was to drink four bottles of water and my protein drink and lay down for a little while.

Sarah and Carl packed me into the car and took me home, and that’s precisely what I did.

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