DSCN8940.jpg (290150 bytes)        Jelly Fish Are Bad News

North Shore Challenge Report:

Details: 2.3 mile swim Ehukai to Waimea Bay


Here is a link for a map:
(The start is at H4, and the finish at H3)

nc3.JPG (177910 bytes)Mom and I signed up for this swim with the stipulation that if the water wasnít too rough we would do it. We both trained to do the distance in swimming pools. In a pool 2.3 miles was no problem. Saturday morning we left our vacation home at 7am. The drive up north took us about 45 minutes. Registration was in Waimea Bay at the finish. There were over 400 people registered for the race. Mom and I went to register and received our timing chip which was on an elastic band that you wrap around your ankle. It fastens with Velcro like the ones used in triathlons. A volunteer wrote our numbers on our left arms.

nc2.JPG (202059 bytes)A school bus shuttled people south to the race start. Maurice and my Dad had the minivan so they drove us to the start. It was sunny so Mom put some SPF 36 sunscreen on my back. I didnít do my legs because they would be in the water.   

nc4.JPG (184630 bytes)The course was along the coast and then it finished in a good size bay.  Mom wasnít sure she felt comfortable doing the swim so she got in the water and swam north. She looked good moving up the coast. Unfortunately during that warm up she must have swam through a school of jelly fish because she had a big angry welt on her shoulder and another smaller spot nearby. Her arm would later look as if she were burned by a iron. Mom was having intermittent chest pains and she wasnít sure if it was from the stings or nerves.

nc5.JPG (229877 bytes)At 8:45am  the race director called us all to the shore and he explained that we will all start in the water. There are some dry reefs along the coast so if you are not familiar with the area stay out away from the shore. Then he said ďThere are a lot of elite swimmers here and if you are not fast stay back. If you are elite no grabbing ankles and turning this into a triathlon.Ē Everyone walked down to the shore. Mom still wanted to give it a go, but the chest pains had not stopped. We went to the very back of the field and swam out. The swim out to the start was the farthest either of us had ever been out in the ocean. A horn blasted loudly and we started to swim. Mom was closer to the shore and I stayed right by her. Soon the pack left us and we were the last two. The sun was shining and the water temperature was great. We had a life guard on a surf board nearby. Mom was pushing hard trying to get her rhythm. It takes her a littlestart.jpg (90760 bytes) while to get her breathing into a groove. The whole ocean environment was an additional challenge and she was working hard. I on the other hand have lake swimming experience so I just did a little breast stroke, rolled on my back and floated a bit, and then swam a few strokes here and there staying next to Mom. I guess we had been out there about 15 minutes when Mom decided to opt out of the race. We talked for a few minutes then the life guard on the surf board called a jet ski over which took her to the shore. Mom said the ride to shore was fun. There was a platform on the back of the Jet Ski and she just held on while they gave her a quick ride in. Dad had been walking along the shore watching us and he was there with her sandals when she got out. A race official riding a four wheeler offered then a ride to the finish, but they decided to walk it.

nc7.JPG (182740 bytes)Mom was on her way out so I turned and looked north. I was alone-very alone. I tucked my head down and begin to swim in earnest. I felt like weak prey swimming alone at back of the pack. I suppose that was the scariest part of the race. It sort of freaked me out because I couldnít see any life guards or other participants. The water was very clear. I looked down and saw fish, which was good and bad. I sighted some flat thin eel like creatures and that motivated me to swim faster. The ocean floor had some sandy spots with waves of sand and other rocky and reef areas. nc6.JPG (208423 bytes) About halfway through the race I looked down a hole in the ocean floor and saw a big turtle swimming. The swimming was interesting because a wave would push you northeast and then suck you back out. Iím sure if you do this often you figure out the most efficient way to work with the waves. Little by little I would catch up with other swimmers and pass them. I passed a life guard on a surf board and asked him how much farther and he told me less than a mile. The coast guard watched over us flying in a helicopter and a plane. There were no marking buoys on the course, you just swam north out from the coast. In order to see where I was going I would have to look up when the wave pushed me up and that was kind of weird at first, otherwise you could only see water around you. I kept looking for the bay with the two orange buoys at the finish and finally I made it to the Waimea bay.

I decide to surge to the finish so I kicked hard and powered to the shore.  The swim in to shore took forever. I think it was at least a quarter of a mile and the waves would push you back out of the cove. The shore had an elevation drop making for a clumsy exit.  Maurice, Mom and Dad were all at the finish cheering as I climbed out and ran to the finish. I finished with a time of  1:25:45, 8th of 13 in my age group.

Donna Dowell Hawaii SwimDuring the swim I must have been stung by a jellyfish right next to my mouth. I had a small red burned mark about ľ of an inch long that shared the same discolored look of Momís multiple bites. (You can see it in this picture taken the following day.) I also was sunburned. My back was burnt and the back of my legs were sunburned. I forgot the water was so clear and it just cooked me while I swam.

I looked at the results and the times were incredibly fast. Almost all the participants were from Hawaii.  Iíve noticed that young kids swim and play in the ocean all the time. I am sure that they all have a greater understanding and knowledge of swimming in it. I enjoyed the North Shore Challenge and I feel ready to try Big Shoulders.

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