Here’s the gorgeous water that greeted me as I flew into Bermuda nearly a month ago. Not a bad way to start my Round the Sound adventure!
As I mentioned in my last post, I have always wanted to have the opportunity to do this swim, a 10k in the warm waters of Bermuda, and a swim unusual in its format.
This year, the stars aligned, thanks to the amazing Kirsten Read of KGR Coaching. (Again, Mainers, if you need a coach, she’s your gal!)
It was a quick trip, down to Bermuda on Friday and back on Monday, and well worth making the effort to get there.
Upon arrival at the race hotel, The Grotto Bay Beach Resort, I was greeted by more of the incredible colors Bermuda is known for.
While my pre-race jitters are always a factor, I was happy to be among my crazy community of open water folks, sitting on the beach, having a cold drink, and relishing the warm water since for me, open water season in New England is long over. (I know, I know. Compared to my New England swimmer brethren, I am a cold water wimp.)
The next day, it was time to get to work with a group training swim at Clearwater Beach, followed by the pre-race meeting at Gombeys Bar & Restaurant.
The water was beautiful, and it was hard to make myself stop swimming, knowing I had to keep some in reserve for the next day.
Who WOULDN’T want to stay in that water??
Sadly, I forced myself to get out and explored a bit before the race meeting. Again, the colors of Bermuda are simply lovely.
Then, it was time for the pre-race meeting.
The Round the Sound Swim is unusual in its format as there are multiple race distances happening at the same time.
10k swimmers start first, rounding Harrington Sound, and meeting swimmers from other distances along the way.
When I looked at this map, I felt utterly and completely confused. Go around this. Go behind this. Spin around three times and rub your belly while patting your head and jumping up and down on one foot.
But those who had raced the course before told me that once I was out there, it would all begin to make sense. I decided to trust and not spend the rest of my day trying to memorize the map.
Then, it was back to the hotel, time for almost snoozing on the beach, and the pre-race pasta dinner.
When the morning came, it was incredible.
Not a bad pre-swim omen, right? And as always with a sunrise or sunset, a photo never does it justice.
A quick breakfast and then it was off to the swim start at the Bermuda Aquarium.
Walking down the steps, we were called out in race number order so it could be confirmed that we had entered the water.
With last year’s race cancelled because of weather conditions, organizers wisely chose to reuse and recycle the caps from the previous year, changing the date from 2014 to 2015 with a handy sticker.
The water was warm, and we treaded while we waited for each of the more than 75 swimmers to enter the water. I felt a few jellyfish, but just the small ones that don’t sting, and it felt like nothing compared to my experience at the Alligator Light Swim last year.
Then, it was time, and I followed the trail of speedsters who led the way to the first buoy.
As the course map indicates, we circled the bay clockwise, and the map made sense as I saw the rocks and outcroppings in person.
Large signs with neon arrows told us which way to go, and with the exception of the 4k checkpoint, which, um, I missed and had to swim back to, I felt confident and well-guided throughout the swim.
I enjoyed the navigational challenges, which felt different from a typical swim where sighting from buoy to buoy is standard.
The water was not as clear as our swim the day before, but given that Hurricane Joaquin had hit the island just the week before, we were fortunate to be swimming at all, and to have calm and beautiful conditions. Many who had done the race before said that it was the calmest they had ever seen.
There’s not much else to say about the swim itself, except that once the finish was in sight, I didn’t actually believe it. It felt that it had come much too soon!
The finish was there! And coming faster! And I was there!
Goggle face but BIG smile! And a decent time in a crowd of fantastically fast swimmers.
We must, however, talk about something important.
The SEA LICE.
Yes, once again, the sea lice took hold of me and wouldn’t let go.
They started almost immediately, and I totally regretted my decision to opt for a standard suit rather than the two-piece I generally wear for ocean swims. Little stings were constant and but I’ve had that before. Occasionally, I’d stop, try to sweep out my suit, and keep going, pushing aside thoughts of discomfort and
Okay, get ready. I’m going to show you just some of what I was dealing with and picture this essentially covering my entire torso.
Don’t keep scrolling unless you want to see something that actually made my husband recoil.
And yes, my torso was swollen because of all of it. Swollen! That was a new one for me.
And it itched. For DAYS.
So. Much. Itch.
Even with benadryl. Even with anti-itch cream. Even with showers and baths and cold compresses and warm compresses and anti-sting stuff designed to get the poison out.
Thankfully, I had some steroid cream left over from a previous bout and after itching my way through the flight home (Sorry guy who probably thought I had bedbugs!), I spent a few days slathering myself with cream and commiserating with fellow swimmers over Facebook and email. It appeared this was a tough year for the little beasts, which makes sense given the hurricane churning the water just before our arrival.
I still have the shadow of spots, which I will wear like a badge of swimmer honor when I head to St. Croix this week! And YES, I will TOTALLY be wearing a two-piece suit this time.
Oh—but one more thing!
The next day, before I headed out, it was time for another swim.
This is how crazy swimmers are. Terrible sea lice? Head right back into that water and start swimming again!
The lovely Kirsten Read headed out with me, and with her trusty GoPro, took some great shots of me swimming, something totally different from what John is able to get when he’s in the kayak.
So cool! (And yes, if you use her for coaching, she does this for you too.)
The water was beautiful, the company was fantastic, and Bermuda served me well this year.
Looking forward to my next open water adventure as the St. Croix Coral Reef Swim is a week from today!
Thanks to everyone for your support. I’m a lucky, lucky woman.