Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Teachable Moments in Open Water Swimming

The kids and I have been doing some swimming in the bay. Part of it is open water, but a bit protected, and part isn't as protected.

This summer we've been working on swimming out to a pole in the bay. One morning Jessica and I swam out and around, but we hit a "patch" of current and had to swim like crazy.

The twins and I swam at a different spot that was more sheltered, and we were fine. But it wasn't that much of a challenge. So we decided to swim the pole.

Jasmine was at band camp. Jessica joined us after the swim for our cookout.

One evening, I had Rick come along in the kayak and the three youngest and I started to swim out around the pole. The waves were pretty strong, and we were getting pulled toward a bridge. If we'd gone under it, we could have potentially been in trouble. We would have eventually hit land, but it could have been miles away in an area where there is nothing and really no way to get back. 

 Kayla was really struggling, so Rick fished her out. She wasn't happy about it, but safety is the first consideration. She is also somewhat afraid of deep water but didn't want to be left out. In an early half way swim, she had panicked, I'd had to chin-tow her back to shore and reswim out to catch up with the others.

I ended up helping Jasmine a lot, so she didn't mark "swim to the pole" off her goal list. 

You can't really see how far out the pole is in the photos, so I'm posting one below that's from July 4. They are already a ways from shore in the kayak. I'm shooting telephoto below.

Yesterday was a nice day, and there weren't that many waves, so Jasmine, Kaleb and I decided to swim out around the pole. Several yards before we hit the pole, we got snatched up in the current and rushed right by the pole and out into the bay, headed quickly away from shore. I was pretty calm until I realized that no matter how hard I was swimming, I was getting pulled farther from shore.

 I had a few moments of panic because of we were headed out into the open water. Then I realized that it would be VERY inconvenient, but we would be safe because there was a spot where the water turned, and we would probably be able to kick free at that point. The thing was, we'd be miles from where we started and from our car. And obviously we had no shoes or phone. We'd either be walking miles along the shore to get back, or go up to the street and hitch a ride back.

But then I realized that if we could swim parallel to the current, it would take us near a spot that is sometimes shallow. So I had the kids grab the string holding the dive flag, and I grabbed the wire,  and we all kicked like crazy. Of course this is the one day there were no boats out to flag down. Well, we hit a spot where Jasmine and I could touch. We had to really lean into the current and push forward. We could feel the current trying to pull us out into the water. But that shallow area saved us.

We got far enough toward shore that when we hit deep water again, we were able to swim parallel and get into a more sheltered area and kick our way to shore.

It was crazy!! We are going to have to swim in a more sheltered area from now on. The area by the pole seems to be bad for current!!!!
Glad to be back near shore! You can see the white structures way in the background. That's what we were headed for.

What I am thankful for:

1. For safety sake, we always wear snorkel vests, although we do not usually inflate them. But we did once we got sucked into the current.

2. For safety sake, we also take the dive flag with us. It gave me a way to tow them in.

3. I got to be their hero. : )

4. We all worked together to problem solve. And except for a few moments of panic, we were calm although thought we'd have to flag down a ride back.  

5. There was that shallow area that gave us a chance to get into an area where we had a fighting change.


megan said...

Wow! That sounds really, really scary! Glad you made it back safely and now you have a neat story to tell. :)

Felicia said...

Scary, I will stick with the swimming pool!