The final challenge was Roosevelt, a 10km night swim. This was a great introduction to swimming in the dark, as we had some daylight, a beautiful sunset and an hour or so in the blackness.
After three days covered in lanolin and zinc, I was relieved to only need a light cover of sunscreen. I'm drafting this 2 days after the end of SCAR and I've still got white stuff all over my back, despite numerous showers and baths.
Essential to this swim was lighting - LED dog lights and glow sticks. Patty decked herself out like Cleopatra at a rave, and the kayak was similarly decorated.
The course ran from a boat ramp, round an island then direct to Roosevelt bridge, which was illuminated by the lights on the dam behind it, and a red flashing light on top.
Wave 2 lined up at the start, and shared a unique bonding experience: as soon as we were standing in the water, somebody asked "Is everybody else peeing?" Affirmative x15. Wave 3 may be faster swimmers than us, but they have to dive into our pee.
I had switched my goggles from tinted ones to clear for this swim, but they caused me all sorts of grief from the get go. After 40 minutes of not being able to see clearly, I had to stop to find my trusty orange ones. Although covered in sunscreen and zinc, they were still clearer than the untinted ones.
Most people seemed set on finishing this race quickly. I, on the other hand, was interested in getting a few good photos and enjoying the sunset and night sky, so didn't go very hard.
The sunset was lovely, and slowly the glow sticks became more visible. By 7.30, it was properly dark. Swimming in the dark is a strange sensation. I was already in a fairly meditative zone - regular breathing, not thinking about anything - but once it got dark I felt like I was getting confused between sleep and swimming. I imagine this is not uncommon. I was a bit worried that maybe I was really hypothermic and losing my mind, but I didn't even feel cold (not a great indicator if you're truly hypothermic, but in this case it just wasn't very cold). To keep my mind at ease, I watched my watch - the back of the Apple Watch has a little green light that shines towards your wrist. It was just enough to keep my focus. I breathe bilaterally, so I only look at the kayak every 6 strokes, which is about 10 metres. Enough that you can end up needing to correct your path if you set off on the wrong trajectory. So I also relied on the faint light of Patty's head torch which shone through the water when she looked at me.
My eyesight is pretty terrible at night, so even though I knew we were headed in the right direction, I couldn't judge the distance. I've been trying to wean myself off my watch, but in this case I knew that the 10km course shouldn't take me more than 3.5 hrs (allowing for photo shoots and wardrobe changes), so I refused my last feed to just coast in to the finish. There was a fair bit of junk under the bridge, which is disconcerting when you can't see anything. Surprisingly, I didn't panic when I ran into a long hose like thing - didn't give one thought to the rattlesnake of Canyon Lake.
I'm terribly sad it's all over. I hope that these past 4 swim reports give you an idea of the actual swims, but there's so much more that happens on the periphery that defines the whole experience.
I'm drafting this from near the bottom of the Grand Canyon. I've tested my shoulders over the past few days. Now it's time for my legs to show me what they're made of.
Update: legs not as tough as shoulders. Still limping 3 days later