While I felt that I had plenty of experience in ocean swimming leading up to my Catalina training, there have also been many firsts that have occurred as a result. Below is a list of seven things I did for the first time during my training.
1. Swim with dolphins
I have seen dolphins in the wild, both while paddling and from the beach, but I had never seen them while swimming. I have now seen them many times while swimming and also had one swim under me once. Read my account of the encounter here.
2. Win an open water race
While I have competed in many ocean races in varying distances and have won my age group, I had never won the women’s division overall. At the Semana Nautica 6 Mile Swim 2016, I finally did.
3. Feed from a kayak
I have now learned how to feed quickly from a kayak and how to stick to a feeding plan. Being able to feed quickly helps me stay warm as well cover distance more quickly.
4. Actually like my feeds
Before beginning my Catalina training, one of the things I was most worried about was the fact that I had never found a single energy or sports drink that I liked. I even ordered a sample kit from one company and I am sure the lifeguard enjoyed my facial expressions as I tasted them each day! Finally, based on a suggestion from Charlotte Samuels, I tried CarboPro which basically tastes like sugar water and is very easy to digest.
5. Swim in the dark
Training to swim in the dark is very important for a Catalina crossing because the first part of the swim will take place over night. I have done many training swims before sunrise in order to prepare.
6. Swim farther than a 10k
Before beginning my Catalina training, I had never swum farther than 10k (6 miles) at one time. Now, I have completed many 12k (8 mile) training swims and one 21k (13 mile) training swim.
7. Teach someone else about ocean swimming
During my training, I had the privilege to introduce my friend Eliza to ocean swimming! She has been training in lakes and reservoirs for a Plymouth to Provincetown crossing and it was really fun to share my love of ocean swimming with my teammate.
Check out my previous countdown posts: