This Saturday, I am participating in my fourth Flowers Sea Swim since moving to Grand Cayman. It is one of the highlights of the sporting event calendar on island, with now 900 participants involved in the infamous ‘cuisine-art start’ one-mile swim along Seven Mile Beach. The Flowers family has been organizing this for more than 20 years, and it has the reputation of being the world’s richest open water one-mile swim, as there are more than $100,000 in cash and random prizes awarded at the event. They proudly boast that one in every five finishers wins a random prize—from an airline ticket to an experience to a cell phone—there are some really great prizes to be had! (Of course, I have never actually won anything.)
All proceeds go to a selected charity, so I don’t mind putting myself through the flailing arms & legs and the harsh salt water for about 45 min to finish the swim. In the past, I have convinced a friend to join me, then proceeded to train for at least a couple weeks, with that friend. My husband was along the course to take a few pictures and join me at the post-event party for a couple drinks. All in all, it was a great way to spend a hot summer afternoon with people whose company I enjoyed.
This year, I am going solo. And without having been swimming in the last Sea Swim I participated in—three years ago. And without my husband. It will be a different experience for sure.
This year, I am in the middle of marathon training. So rather than the Flower Sea Swim be an end point of training, the destination I was reaching for, it is now a cross-training exercise for me. While I may not be in shape swimming-wise, I am in more than adequate shape to accomplish this one-mile swim. My body can handle the level of overall fitness that is required of such an effort, even if I know my arms and back muscles will be a bit annoyed with me in the days following the swim.
This year, I am not pressuring myself for a set time. I guess I would like to have a respectable time (my last swims were all in the 40-43 minute range, as I do predominately the breast stroke), but I’m not so focused on that aspect of the swim. I have 75 minutes to complete it, and I know for a fact that I can travel the one-mile in that time frame. So like my long distance runs, I hope to simply enjoy the swim and being in the ocean for a bit of time Saturday afternoon.
This year, I hope to win (finally!), but let’s be real, I rarely win anything. So I will clap and cheer for all those who take home the prizes and laugh about how I never seem to win. I’m sure that everyone in a 5-ft radius will take home a prize, and I will be happy for them.
This year, I won’t make the mistake of getting there too early and spending that much more time in the sun. I usually get so nervous about the swim that my nervous energy means I get there really early for check in and then stand in the hot sun, baking for about 90-min before we can even get in the water. Then I spend 45 min in the water, and afterwards, am out (still) for another 2 ½-3 hours while the swimmers finish up, winners are announced and presented with their trophies (and prizes!) and the random prize process takes place.
This year is part of my training. And like all training, I may not be great at it, but in the end, it makes me stronger and brings me one step closer to my goal of 26.2. Swimming this for Meg & Scott, for K-Man, for Mrs Gardner…and of course for me.
So now, I’m off to find my swim goggles from the recesses of my closet! I hope they are still where I think they are…