Being a log of the swimming adventures of Laura H. Picardo: Hamiltonian Federalist, selkie, whale enthusiast, and eternal optimist.
Tuesday, May 3, 2016
LP Swims P2P
This post originally appeared in the #TeamSelkie blog
On July 9, 2016 at 04:00 U.S. Eastern Standard Time, I am plunging into the chilly, dark, and foreboding waters off of Plymouth, Massachusetts, and plan to not set foot on land until I swim 19 miles to Provincetown, Massachusetts. Nineteen miles of salty water, waves, eating every 30 minutes in the water (more on that later!), and critters who will hopefully let me pass through their home peacefully. I come in peace, my aquatic friends!
The P2P Swim or Cape Cod Bay Swim has been on my list of possible swims for about two years. I visited Cape Cod with my family when I was a kid, and fell head-over-heels in love with it. On the Cape, you feel like you are in the woods and on the beach all at the same time. Majestic humpback whales feed off of the plankton rich waters of Stellwagen Bank. Playful seals just hang out on the beach where people sunbathe. Every corner is full of the rich, nautical history of some of U.S.’s oldest settlements. The Cape was heaven on earth for a history-obsessed kid who really just wanted to be in and around the ocean all day every day.
I also had the honor and privilege to be friends and neighbors with Eileen Burke, the first recorded woman to swim across Cape Cod Bay. What are the chances that of all the streets in New York City, I would move to the same one as such an inspiring and accomplished marathon swimmer? We met swimming with CIBBOWS, but most of our time together came on 05:30 train to our respective pools. We talked about school often, since she was a teacher and I created educational videos for a living, but mostly, we talked about swimming and our beloved ocean. Listening to her impressive swim resume was inspiring, but it was the excitement about swimming across Cape Cod Bay that was most infectious.
Eileen passed away in October 2015, after a brave battle against pancreatic cancer, leaving a gaping hole in the New York and Massachusetts open water communities. In addition to her friendship, she did one very important thing for me before she died. A swim must call to me in an almost primal way before I decide to do it. It is not just because of how physically grueling it is, but because a swim requires everything you have. Marathon swims require months of lonely pool and dryland training, as well as painful (and sometimes gross) trial and error of feeds and goggles and swimsuit tightness. They require a lot of training, and this is all in addition to working a challenging full-time job. Given the time-sucking nature of our chosen extracurricular activity, I don’t think many marathon swimmers can just pick a swim without feeling some sort of connection or sense of purpose for swimming it. I am often asked when I will be swimming better known challenges like the English Channel or Catalina Channel, but in all honesty, those swims are not calling to me right now. But swimming across Cape Cod Bay? That called me. Eileen commanded the swim to call to me.
I have been training in the pool for the past three months, and am really looking forward to getting back in the ocean off Brighton Beach. No, it’s not the Brighton Beach in East Sussex, although if Selkie CEO Jeremy Laming wants to fly me over, I would be more than happy to come swim.
In future posts, I plan to detail who my awesome support crew will be, safety and feed plans, and summaries of my two big prep swims: 6 hours in the Atlantic Ocean and an 18-miler in the Hudson River. I am extremely nervous about swimming in total darkness, the wind not being in my favor, and the aforementioned critters, but excited about the opportunity to swim “America’s Channel,” and once again feel the euphoria that comes with a long swim.