As I posted yesterday, this morning I participated in the ‘Escape from Managaha.’ It’s a swim from the small island of Managaha back to Saipan.
If you are squeemish, you might want to skip this post just FYI.
On my way to the swim in the morning I distinctly remember thinking in the car — this is one of those experiences that I am going to look back on and realize I cannot believe I did. I do swim, but before this year I never swam in the ocean — much less for any long distance. But, after confirming I could do the distance in a shallower area, I got myself excited for this swim.
Registration was at Smiling Cove. You can see some of the flame trees in this blurry picture.
Here’s a picture I had from before from basically the finish line towards the island. Now that I’ve swam it, I can tell you it is as far as it looks. But, when I was at the dock and riding the boat out I definitely was saying in my head that it didn’t look as far as I thought.. haha..
There were about 70 swimmers so we split up into four boats to take us out to the island. We rode out with our swim gear. This being an ocean swim, the conditions obviously were up to mother nature. When we got out there, the kayakers met us there (they had kayaked from the shore) and told us that there wasn’t a prevailing current (which was good news) and gave us safety instructions on where to aim during the swim. There were jet skis out on the water and the kayakers were there to watch out for us.
I obviously didn’t have my camera with me, but here’s a view from Managaha looking back at Saipan from an earlier visit this year. We aimed for Mount Tapochau, the highest point on the island and then towards the shore after a set of buoys.
We all started out together and quickly disbursed as people swam at different speeds.. and this is where my story begins. I know I am a slow swimmer and this was a fundraiser and not a race so I just wanted to finish.
I swam along and was feeling pretty good — not trying to overextend myself and not getting caught up in too much of the current or waves. The kayakers were helpful to keep us slightly together and in line with the end.
Now comes the crazy part…
About halfway, I started to get a bit tired and stopped to float for a little bit to rest. I got bobbed up and down with the waves a little bit and probably the combination of being tired, salt water in my mouth, and my ridiculous vestibular system (the system that controls balance) that makes me prone to seasickness/carsickness/sickness when watching 3D movies (no joke, I get nausea watching 3D movies!) kicked in. I felt like I needed to up-chuck. But.. I was in the middle of the ocean… supposedly swimming towards shore! I thought if I just kept swimming it would go away, but after another few minutes I knew it wasn’t going to. I didn’t know what to do but just kept swimming and then.. (sorry, this is gross).. I treaded water and puked! Right there in the beautiful waters of Saipan! I went a few more strokes and threw up a second time. But then, felt much better and was able to continue on.
I’m actually glad that I was able to throw up because it made me feel a lot better because before that I was contemplating getting into the boats that were following us or into a kayak and hitching a ride back. After that, I just pulled myself together and said — there is NO way you went through all of that and THREW UP and aren’t going to finish this! There was a kayaker around who fortunately cheered me on the rest of the way and was a great help.
So, I wasn’t last place but I think maybe second or third to the last. But, I can say I swam between two islands in the ocean. Also, I saw three rays!!! The first one surprised me close to Managaha because I wasn’t really paying attention and it just swam right under me. It was beautiful to watch it swim by though. Then, there were two together that I saw a little bit farther away. There was also plenty of beautiful coral, blue starfish, and little pods of fish. I also was surprised at how deep the water got. I thought not being able to see the bottom would be the one thing that would scare me the most — but turns out it wasn’t so bad. I swam it in 1 hr 22 minutes, which was actually about what I had estimated I would swim it at. Trust me, it felt much longer than that though.
Moral of the story — I was right when I thought “this is going to be something I’m going to look back on and think is crazy” but I am proud of myself for finishing it and it’s definitely an experience that I won’t forget. That being said — am not about to go sign up for ocean swimming as my new favorite hobby. Probably should stay on land for awhile :)
Thankful to those on shore who cheered for me and grateful that I got to have this experience.