Well, this is only a week late – not too bad, I suppose!
Last weekend (Memorial Day weekend), I headed down to Charleston with some swim teammates for a swim event called the Low Country Splash. This is a really neat event since it gives you the opportunity to actually swim under the Cooper River Bridge that everyone just loves to run over. So, there are 2 events – a 5 mile swim and a 2.4 mile swim down the Wando River, under the bridge and right up to the USS Yorktown. The event is scheduled on a morning with the tide going out, so you have both the river current and the tide current dragging you (I’m not even kidding) down to the finish. Not knowing this, I had originally signed up for the 2.4 mile swim, but after someone explained to me exactly how little time 5 miles would take, I switched. So very glad that I did!
I didn’t take hardly any pictures at all, which is a shame since it was a beautiful day! But I had forgotten to pack my phone charger, so I left it in the car. Anyways, Saturday morning we headed over to Patriot’s Point to park (a convenient 2 min drive from our hotel!) to pick up our packets and grab the shuttle to the race start. It looked like they had plenty of buses headed to both race starts, so no problem there. The 5 mile start was up at the Daniel Island Pier, where they had food, sunscreen, and lots and lots of Vaseline waiting for us. The water was salt (or, at least, brackish), so it is highly advised to use the Vaseline…everywhere.
We weren’t allowed to warm up, because the current was so strong that once you jumped in there was no going back! This wasn’t a big problem though since the water was a really nice ~78. They started us in waves of 10 – jump off the dock and off we went! I think the 2.4 mile is a mass start, just FYI. The conditions that day were perfect. Strong current with the wind at our backs and low chop.
The course runs along the short of Daniel Island for about 1.5 miles (ish), then you make a left turn and swim for the far shore (towards Mt. Pleasant) to cross the channel. There is a time limit to reach the far side, and it sounds really unreasonable at first, but you would have to be really trying to not make it to get pulled. They also made it clear that once you cross the channel, you had to make it to the far side of a green buoy where there would be a boat with volunteers. We had to give our number to the volunteer so they could ensure everyone made it across safely. Sounds easy….but unless you were right on course, the current dragged you away too quickly. I didn’t realize how fast it was until I realized that I wasn’t going to make the buoy and tried to swim back upstream. Not possible! I managed to get close enough to grab onto a rope hanging off the buoy so I could talk to the volunteer and it was all I could do to hang on! It was wild.
Once we hit the far side, it was easy swimming. The buoys came and went ridiculously fast. They look so far away and when you’re used to lake swim you kind of know how long it takes, so it was weird to see them come up so quickly! I stopped to do breaststroke a few times so I could check out the scenery. Really, really neat.
Finally, we hit the bridge. The race director warned us at the start not to take off at the bridge even though the finish was in sight because there was still another 0.9 miles-ish to go. This was silly advice since it was probably less than 15 mins left but I suppose this is the fastest this swim has ever been, so how could they know? Once I got to the bridge I flipped over onto my back just to get a good look.
I could see all the the pedestrians on top waving – it was so cool! Here’s another for good measure:
Past the bridge, we headed straight for the Yorktown. I felt like one minute it was off in the distance and the next, it was in my face! Some volunteers pointed me towards the finish chute, which was down the pier not far from the ship. I totally missed it, so whoops. I was definitely not the only one and the timing folks did a great job catching those of us who missed the timing mat. I managed to grab the noodles that made up the chute towards the end of the pier, so no one had to come fetch me from the bay (thankfully)!
Once out, I got my medal, found my teammates (we all finished within a few minutes of each other) and got rinsed off. Nothing like saltwater stickiness, ick. Final time? 1:14:27. For 5 miles, yes. No, I don’t actually swim that fast, but the current was incredible. I think the winner was just over an hour. Crazy.
A random note – apparently you have to have clothes on in order to go into the the park at Patriot’s Point and they really enforce this! So we all made sure to have clothes in our drop bags to put on. Anyways, after we all got dressed, we went over to the post-race party. Lots of great food and beer! Plus, we brought our own mimosa ingredients =)
This is a really fun event and I will definitely do it again! It sold out this year (both distances), which is awesome since it’s for a good cause, but if you want to participate, make sure to sign up early!
P.S. – One reason to love Greenville – we came back from Charleston on Sunday, then Monday I took off work to go hiking in the mountains with my cousin. Beach and mountains in one weekend? Sweeeet. =)