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Day 7 Departures

It happens every time.

Strangers come together from across the miles, they make a leap of faith and try this thing called SwimVacation which sounds like it must be a great time….they board a boat and live together for 7 days. When we begin, the only thing they all have in common is a passion for the open water. Some are experienced open water swimmers, some have never been in the ocean, but know they want more from their swimming experience.

After a few days and a handful of swims, they bond over the remarkable circumstances at hand – conditions of the water on that last swim, amazing wildlife sighting, cheering each other on when we’re swimming farther than they ever have before. Midway through the week they become connected by more than a mere love of swimming. The conversations turn to sharing hopes for what they might achieve in the water, and by the end of the week they are hugging and laughing and celebrating their accomplishments. They will never forget the people they were with on the day they exceeded their own expectations for themselves.

It’s a very special thing to be a part of.

We’ve had a remarkable week, with a lot of break-throughs. Some stats on SwimVacation March 2011:

  1. •We had 4 doctors, 1 nurse, a painter, a corporate CPA, two entrepenuers and a collegiate professional on board. More than one has completed an Ironman or will in the near future.
  2. •We ate 15 dozen eggs.
  3. •We used 2000 gallons of water (made by reverse osmosis right here on Promenade).
  4. •We drank 40 – 45 bottles of wine (and we had a few non-drinkers in the group!).
  5. •We ate 10 lbs of sandwich meat.
  6. •We ate 40 yogurts.
  7. •We only blocked the heads twice.
  8. •We saw 6 spotted eagle rays, 4 schools of squid and an entire cruise ship of tourists at The Baths.
  9. •This is the first group in history to pull one over on their SwimVacation guides, with an unprecedented and brilliant April Fool’s prank.
  10. •We made 11 swims, and a total of 13 – 16 miles.

Charmine had never swum in the ocean before, and hadn’t ever completed a mile in a swimming pool. She swam long and far. She can’t believe what she’s done. I hope she will remember her accomplishments and let them fuel her in her training and inspire her in her creative work.

Nancy set the goal of becoming comfortable in open water before she takes on the Bay Bridge swim this June. She owned her place in the chop and swell and waves by day two, and realized she LOVES to swim in challenging conditions (maybe without a rash guard, however!). She is warm and kind and gives great hugs.

Paul wanted to take his swimming to the next level. He worked the kinks out of his stroke, made great friends, became our trip DJ and video taped nearly the entire experience. We both choked up when we hugged goodbye.

Mark is an inspiration. He had come on SwimVacation in November 2009 and was happy to return. He is 69 and after a lifetime of swimming, was able to change his stroke to be more efficient in the water. He has also dramatically improved his sighting and navigation skills. Way to go Mark!

Alison and Ken came to SwimVacation because Ken wanted to improve his swimming technique before taking on an IronMan this summer, and Alison just wants to swim. All the time, fast, and far. Ken is kind and funny, and Alison has a smile that lights up the whole boat. They are best friends.

Marianne always wants to go the distance. This week, she learned to swim faster and more efficiently. We learned that she came here to be pushed, and when we pushed her, she responded and swam harder than she thought she could. She also faced her fear of being in the water with boats – something that has haunted her for a long time. Her husband Gary spent the week on kayak in stalwart support of her efforts. He also captained us on a crossing or two. 

J and Sandra are fun and energetic. They know how to play and have a good time. Sandra enjoyed the snorkeling and came back from every swim amazed by the sea life she saw. Jay enthusiastically enjoyed the swimming, the diving, the running, the sailing, the conversation, the company, the whole thing. When you look at J and Sandra and how they are together, you find a perfect model of how two people can enjoy each other and experience the world.

A week ago, we were strangers. In the last week, we swam miles and laughed a lot and worked on improving ourselves in the water. In doing so, we became friends who will stay in touch and visit each other and hopefully swim together again one day. Today they left Promenade to go back to their homes and lives. I’d like to think they’ll each take away from this something that will make their way of being a little different – both in the water and out.

I am so fortunate to be staying aboard Promenade for another week of SwimVacation. I knew I’d love to be here, swimming in this blue sea for two weeks. But i didn’t count on how hard it would be to say good bye to one group and later that day welcome the next. I admire how these remarkable boat crews make it all happen so seamlessly.

My fellow guides, Will & Fitzy are home by now. Hopper is here to work this week with me, and we have a guest Total Immersion Coach on board for the week. I’ve met4 out of 7 of our new guests, and tomorrow we’ll head out on a new adventure. TOnight, as I’m rocked to sleep in my cozy crew cabin, I’ll be reflecting on the accomplishments of my fellow swimmers last week, and imagining what transformations I’ll be lucky enough to witness this week.

Remember to dig deep friends – you know now that you have it in you. I’ll look forward to swimming with you all again!

– Heather.

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