“Swimming 15 miles? I wouldn’t even walk 15 miles,” a familiar refrain I hear, often followed by, “you are nuts.” Yes I am nuts, thank you very much. And no, I wouldn’t care to walk 15 miles either. Its boring. Have to wear clothes, shoes, maybe mismatched socks, walk with other people, dull talk, go somewhere, maybe rush, wait on line, etc. Not that interesting. Swimming in open water – not boring. Water, solitude, rhythm, consistency, unpredictability, danger, fear, doubt, confidence, elation, breathing, bubbles, waves, peace, war, pain, pleasure, warm, freezing, fish, and other marine creatures . . . ad infintum. And besides people can walk 15 miles; but only nuts would commit themselves, through physical and mental conditioning, to be able to engage in this endeavor. Its fun to spend a few days on the river with other nuts. Some are like kindred sprits. In and out of the water. I think everyone is aware on some level of the other invisible nuts all headed to the next bridge. I certainly felt that on Wednesday for Stage 4. Thanks for a great day on a calm river.
I never wanted to get to Poughkeepsie as bad as I did Monday, June 27th. There she was in the hazy distance. With her hills, docks, old homes with porches; a town that has seen better days. Oh, and her bridges. Just 1,000 yards/meters apart. The longest such distance for a swimmer anywhere in the world, according to Mr. Barra. But 1.3 miles away (and with the river against me – 2 hours away – and 10 hours already in the drink), Rondi and Dave correctly decided that I would have to wait till next year to complete Stage 2. I am so grateful to them for giving me and everyone the time to try to accomplish what only 4 of us were able to accomplish. Seeing that Michael Smalley, my brother kayaker, was determined to make it, kept me going, pushing, fighting. Honestly, I never really felt good in the water yesterday. I did get my rhythm. But my right shoulder was giving me a lot of trouble as were some lousy songs stuck in my head, no matter how hard I tried to change the channel. And I was cranky from all those chops. But it was simply gorgeous out there. And I wanted badly to finish it. And Im very grateful for the chance to swim in simply one of the world’s great events and for everyone involved. Total pros. Oh, and my savior Jim who waited for me and drove me home to my door, 30 minutes out of his way!