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Day 5

Alison here….with every day here, I cannot imagine anything better. That is, until the next day arrives! This morning we woke for the sun rising over the hillside, illuminating the blue green bay on Guana Island. We had the bay to ourselves, so, between the 13 of us, we covered every inch!

We began with the current, swimming across the deep blue to the rocky hillside teeming with silverside fish. They circled around us, back and forth, flitting here and there – dizzying! Sometimes they swam away, other times they accepted us as one of their own. We rounded the bay against the current, over a reef in the farthest corner, and back against the current to the boat. Will had us do sprints on the last leg – Fitzy and I were quiet much of the swim, just enjoying each other’s company but he took off flying on the sprints! (By they way, while I am writing this, we are flying across the waves, wind in my hair, which is flying everywhere and approaching Norman Island where the sun is slipping below a mountain — ahhhhh, cocktail hour!) Back to the AM swim – after 1 circle, I went back for another 1/2 lap while the others worked technique and drills next to the Promenade. I went back over the reef, slowly this time, to observe the brightly colored fish. No reef sharks, but plenty of other gorgeous distractions.

By the time I made it back to the boat, Heather was filming underwater. Just in time to get more advice on my technique! She asked me to play underwater – flips and summersaults, swimming through bubbles, corkscrew – sometimes I didn’t know which way was up!

After a filling breakfast with eggs and delicious rum/banana pancakes, we had time to digest. Ken and I relaxed on the trampoline, listening to the sound of the waves as Bazza hoisted 4 sails and surfed the sea. With the views of the islands, I could not imagine anything more tranquil. I squeezed in a yoga session before we anchored for lunch.

Everyone had a chance to review their individual underwater films with Will. His instruction was *very* helpful. Things to work on: finishing your stroke by drawing up your elbow at a right angle at the waist, keeping your head to a minimal turn (level with the water) when breathing, keeping your body and head in a straight line, maximizing efficiency by using your pull/kick to propel you forward, etc etc. Thanks Will!

The afternoon swim was a chance to work on this advice – we separated out into 3 groups, each with their guide, and convened on the beach on Jost Van Dyke. We took the opportunity to work on beach swim starts and finishes, with much entertainment and laughter – splashing and flopping, and some rolling in the sand! After 4 days of swimming, Ken took the afternoon off and kayaked with Gary – they caught us dashing through the surf like fools! After, we arrived at the Soggy Dollar, a swim-up bar. Interestingly, we appeared to be the only ones who actually swam up to the bar! We relaxed on the beach then swam back to the boat, close by. We learned why you shouldn’t drink and kayak – Sandra and Ken tipped over! Luckily, all was saved – even my sunglasses by a deep diving Paul! I swam backwards to the boat (did I mention the Red Stripes at Soggy Dollar?) and caught a sight of Fitzy washing up and streaking the boat to get to his towel (‘nuf said). We traveled over to Norman Island, across from St. Thomas, looking for a quiet spot for a morning swim, another moment to “swim-relax-repeat”!

By day 5 of our trip, I’m really enjoying the company; Marianne, a neurologist who swims at a very relaxed pace but is gaining confidence in her swims against the current, and who is married to Gary who kayaks and scuba dives; Jay and Sandra from TX with a rich travel/life history, run marathons and like to snorkel; Mark who is 68, quiet, at home in the water and wears more open water swimming shirts than I thought possible; Nancy who is an ICU nurse turned researcher, reserved but beautiful Mom of 5 who is going to be well prepared for the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Swim; Paul who manages a family restaurant in MD and is getting exponentially better by the swim, and is a wonderful conversationalist; Charmine the portrait artist who came on a swimvaca without much swimming experience (really – never swam in the ocean) and is gaining confidence and learning to hydrate; and our lovely guides. I’ve really enjoyed meeting them. I adore Heather – Mom of 5 year old son, amazing photographer, marine naturalist. She is the consumate host, making sure we enjoy every moment and tailoring the experience to each individual. Fitzy is super nice, quiet but with a good sense of humor, very attentive and an excellent swimmer – looking after us all and making sure no one gets left behind (he even offers a ride if someone needs a break!). Lastly, Will is a hoot – an intense but super approachable, fun person who founded Tri-Maine and has “Be Epic” tatooed on his ankle. Great swimmer, fun, young, and full of life. What a great crew. Would love to meet Hopper, who was so instrumental in getting us prepared ahead of time, and see these guys up in M aine….or perhaps another SwimVacation Trip next year?!!

-Alison

PS. Thanks, Alison! – Heather

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