Thursday May 25, 2017
Who was stupid enough to book a flight at 6:00 am?
Miguel, of course.
That meant to meet at Nicole and Juan’s place at 3:00am. Which meant to get up at 2:00 am and when you went to bed at 12:45 am…
Off we go to the airport to get on the plane that took us to Cancun for the first ever Embrace Open Water Swimming team trip to the Global Swim Championships.
We arrived all smiles, with excitement, got settled in the different hotels we got and chilled for a bit at the beach.
Right away I had to get in the ocean and play with the waves. Soon after Sue, Dawn and later Nicole joined me and without fail the chubby mexican lifeguards started making a fuss as we swam a bit beyond their comfort zone. Then I had to explain that we are pretty special people ( as all Embrace athletes) and not their ordinary drunken non swimmers tourists of their everyday. After that they were ok but not before they had to teach me all about how to breath while swimming and how to kick and move my arms to go faster, ride the waves and body surf. Thank god for their swimming expertise! I would have been lost without it.
Nice lunch after that and then off to the registration place where most of us got everything sorted and finally we were ready for the race.
In the process I got to say hello to friends, and to meet great people.
The organizers were absolutely fantastic, helpful, kind and charming. All the volunteers as well. We got that great vibe of being in a very well organized event of an important competition. Thank you very much to Carmen, Arturo and Rafael for such great event where everyone felt good and had an awesome experience.
After the fun team photos and making the best of the time we had to spent there we were on our way back to the hotel not without noticing what I think is the decaying part of humanity in downtown Cancun in the clubs strip. What a sad show of sad people desperately wanting to appear happy in a “party”.
Nice dinner and off to bed.
Friday May 26, 2017
We slept in finally!
Breakfast at 9:00am
On our way to the race site at 10:20 to meet with Barb, Jackie and Suzanne.
Lovely easy training session! Always enchanted with the intense blue waters of the Mexican Caribbean. What a treat to be privileged enough to be safely and happily swimming in those waters!
After the swim and some walking obviously lunch had to be in place.
As per the recommendation of locals we ended up at Mocambo restaurant. A sea food place. Slow service with ok food.
Then walk to wait to get on a boat that we arranged previously picked us up to travel the entire I’m course 10 and 3 km.
What a life saver was this little boat ride!
Best decision we made for the trip. And how lucky were we as the boat captain, Pablo, had been in two FINA world cups right on the same course!
His knowledge and generosity with his tips were invaluable to all of us. We were able to see and feel first hand and ahead of time the currents and waves, established the visual references for navigation, got to see the buildings around the finish line and helped us to establish the race plan that many never got to do.
The stories I heard after from several other fellow swimmers about not knowing were to go, where to finish, and the uncertainty of not knowing if they were going the right way, just made every cent and minute we invested in this boat trip prior to the race so much more valuable.
Embrace Open Water Swimming will always try our best to have this process covered on each race we go as a team.
Barb was the only one missing the registration process so we went right after. Once registration was out of the way for her we were thinking on leaving for dinner but stumble upon Nora Toledano‘s motivational talk before the swim.
Nora is the only Mexican ever inducted into the Swimming international hall of fame. Her achievements are impressive: swims all over the world including the double cross of the English Channel from England to France and back to England in less than 24 hours!
Anyway, I learned some things and was very moved to see how Nora approaches her swims in a very similar way I do. Mentally and physically. I think Barb also enjoyed it even with my slow translation to English.
To finish a very productive and important day Katie and I had a nice dinner together.
Saturday May 27, 2017
Got up and went out to the balcony.
The wind really did not seem to care at all about the race that was to start a few minutes later.
Excited and determined to have a great day I went out the room with Katie jumped on the bus and went to the 10 km start place while katie continued on the bus to her 3 km reunion point to board the ferri that would transport the ladies to the start line on the ocean.
On schedule everything went really smooth. Did not have sunscreen, Rob Kent generously not only gave me some he also applied it on my back and then is when I thought … we are really a team. The feeling after that was all positive and happy. I went looking for a plastic bag to apply my vaseline on the special parts whiteout having grease in my hands and boom! found one almost without any effort. Another good sign that it would be a good day.
Then off to the edge of the water to find a spot alone where I could sit to talk to the ocean and ask its permission to let me in and arrive safe to the Island. To let me be part of its intense beauty and to be one with it.
And off we go the start gun or cannon or whatever it was went off and all people in the water. In a very muggy day, the fight for a comfortable spot in the water was not too long and soon enough I found myself alone swimming against the current. “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming” was in my head. Trying to sight often until was pretty obvious to me that if I was to do that I would have to swim breaststroke to really see where I was going and it never changed! It was one of the few very challenging swims I have done. Being alone in the middle of nowhere can be daunting to anyone. See, the beauty of this waters is that they are so clean and the current is so strong that the clarity is outstanding. No matter how deep the bottom is you can see it and therefore you have a visual reference of your progress while swimming until each wave carries you, lift you up and push you back. it was mentally very exhausting.
Mother nature has an incredible way to make you humble and show you how small we are. That is why flexibility perseverance and patience are so helpful in the cases.
Someone from the 8th floor of the hotel beside the start place took this picture and later somehow shared it with us:
I can say that this was a great experience, the race was all what I expected and more. I enjoyed every stroke and even when I went to the dark places in my mind after being alone for more than 90 minutes with no water or guidance to swim straight, I had two thoughts that actually helped me to get out there and continue:
1) How privileged Am I that I have the luxury of do this swim in this extraordinary place of the world. Nothing can be too bad.
2) A few months ago I left my mom’s ashes in a very close place in the ocean because that was her wish.Then I had the image of the ashes spreading into the water and at moment I knew that in reality I wasn’t alone and that thought was enough to keep going.
At the end I was under the time I wanted to swim, I learned a lot about myself, about swimming, about the ocean and reaffirmed the fact that there are things that I do right and those things help others as well. This was a great trip all around.
Thank you for reading.
If you want to see more photos please visit the album: https://flic.kr/s/aHskXnisHV