So I’ve been braving the waters every Sunday.. as you probably know by now (apparently this is turning into a swimming blog). Even though I’ve joined the group at least five or six times, it still scares the crap out of every time I walk in the water. My “worry list” started out with just one or two scenarios but has grown as I talk to more people and learn their experiences.
My worry list, in no particular order:
- Jelly fish (ok so maybe this is my main worry)
- Sharks (look, it does happen)
- Being swept out to sea (irrational I know, but whatever)
- Getting a charlie horse/cramp.. the kind that paralyzes your body for a moment.. and drowning (there are no lanelines in the ocean to grab onto)
- Sting ray tails (thanks to Joni being whipped a few weeks ago)
- Fisherman hooks (not a thought until last week until someone pointed out how far their lines go from shore)
- More worries TBA
Admittedly, my main worry is jelly fish. And yes, it’s justified. Somewhere around 2004 I had a “staycation” in South Beach for three days with an ex boyfriend. Thirty minutes into our staycation, he was called into work and I found myself sitting on the beach alone. Thirty minutes after that I ventured into the water, which I NEVER do in South Florida due to a) sea lice; b) jelly fish; and c) Portuguese Man of War. My body hates nature; it hates stings, bites, grass, leaves, etc. I may not go into anaphylactic shock, but I don’t have the best reactions.
Of course, within minutes of being in the water I felt something wrap around my ankle and quickly had a massive water-splashing panic attack. I dragged myself out of the water and wanted to DIE when I saw a jelly fish wrapped around my ankle. Some kid screamed and some lady went to get a lifeguard (who was pretty useless by the way). Using a stick (thanks, lifeguard) the jelly fish was peeled off my leg to reveal my already forming elephantiasis look-alike (no, it’s not “elephantitis”, people…). Oh, did I mention I blow up like a puffer fish when nature touches me?
Half a bottle of vinegar later, I was finally able to collect my things and go back to my tiny South Beach hotel room. Boooooring. I made my way down the block to the Fridays and sat the bar, leg propped, with a bag of ice, for the next. six. hours. I watched a ridiculous amount of Euro Cup soccer and ate a crap ton of fried food. The bartender felt so bad for me he ended up not charging me for anything. My ankle remained swollen for a week and then turned black and blue for a week after that. So, there you have it.. my justifiably appropriate jelly fish fear.
Today, the ocean looked gorgeous…
..which is exactly why I was terrified. The calmer the water, the more likely it is there is “stuff” peacefully floating around., thinking it’s their home or something…
The swim up was easy. There was a north-pushing current and I swam it in 24 minutes. The swim back was harder; we were against the current and the tide was coming in, which made for choppy water. But I felt great! I felt strong and was enjoying the challenge.. until it happened. All of a sudden my arm and my cheek were on fire. I looked at my arm and saw nothing; I felt my cheek and felt nothing. I swam another minute and couldn’t take it any longer. I got out .25 miles short of my finish and before I made it to the pier my arm was beginning to swell and I had a bunch of red, painful dots protruding. The lifeguard sprayed vinegar and… what do you know? It felt better. The swelling went down in just a few minutes and although my skin still stings a bit and is sensitive to the touch, I survived this a lot better than the last time. Apparently I just had a “stray tentacle” brush up against my face and arm. And apparently having a jelly fish wrap around you is an unusual situation.. who knew?
My biggest fear occurred.. and it wasn’t so bad. I think I can even move it down the list. Maybe it can be listed second.. but then what do I move up to first? I probably shouldn’t think about it.
**Duval Ocean Swimmers swim every Sunday at 9:00am from the Jax Beach Pier. Park at the north end of the pier parking lot and look for a bunch of people standing around in Speedos. We swim a little over a mile north. Some choose to swim back and some walk back. Swimmer ability varies; everyone is welcome. Feel free to join the facebook page to ask questions/get more info.