When the 10 mile swimmers began they stayed relatively close together for the first half mile, but then spread out a little. At that point Sarah was right on my starboard side about 3 feet out. She did some drafting for a few minutes off various people, but I found that most of the other kayakers were doing a terrible job in guiding their swimmers. I knew that if I could get her to follow my line closely, that we could swim a shorter path and "swim faster" than those who were having to sight every 5 strokes.
At the end of Wallsburg bay she moved into 5th position. Once she got around that buoy she quickly moved into 3rd position. Then by the time we got to the mouth of Wallsburg bay again, she was only 25 yards behind Lisa and George. By the time we got about 2.5 miles into the race she had passed Lisa and George and was continuing to lengthen that lead. When I told her at mile 2 at her first feed she could win this thing, she splashed me and didn't believe me. I told her I was serious and that if she maintained this pace she would definitely win it. They were slowing down and she was speeding up. Their kayakers were all over the place and I noticed they both were sighting frequently. Sarah didn't sight more than a couple times the entire time I was with her.
I was expecting Steve to catch me around mile 2, but he was no where to be seen so I stayed right with her. I'd occassionally give her a sign of "You're doing really well", but holding a fist up. I'd give her a two minute warning before her 30 minute feeds which went really fast. They were about 30 seconds or so. She'd drink and go.
When we got to the 5K turnaround buoy at the Rainbow bay she was doing very well. We made it all the way to the 4.25 miles into it when Steve paddled up behind me. I told him she was due for a feed in one minute and that if she kept going at this pace she would win.
At this point I had to go to the bathroom really bad. The whole experience made me much more appreciative of Tom Reilly and Terry O'Malley my paddlers for Catalina and MIMS. That sure is a long way to paddle and I was only paddling for 3 hours. They both did way more than that.
Today was a special day for me as it's my "Channelversary". What a dream it was two years ago when I was able to tour Dover and England having just swum the channel! I'm excited to go back and experience that all over again as a coach for Chad. Here's a video that still gives me chills!
It's my ultimate goal to share that experience with him. At yesterday's race he had an incident where a kayaker got too close to him and he ended up breaking and dislocating a couple fingers on his hand. That was about a mile into the race so he swam the remaining portion in terrible pain, but he finished! I can only imagine the frustration, disappointment and worry he must have gone through during the race.
He is taking a couple days off to let the swelling go down and to heal, but he is very determined to continue his training and get his qualifier done in September. I'm praying for him that it heals quickly. Fortunately you don't have a ton of pressure on your fingers so the strain on them should be relatively small. It's a significant amount of pressure if they're in pain I'm sure, but once they've even partially healed, it should be just a matter of keeping that pain under control.
I'm so proud of my two close swimming friends Sarah and Chad for their performances on Saturday. There were 5 swimmers total this year that swam the Utah Triple Crown during race day. Pretty impressive!