Well, I must have survived the Lowcountry Splash harbor swim. Otherwise I wouldn’t be writing this. And after all that worry! Worry because I didn’t really think I could do it, worry because I didn’t really believe I was much of a swimmer, and even worry over childhood flashbacks of being the only person to flunk Junior Life Saving (the first go round.)
So I’d mentioned a few weeks ago that I had gotten some tips from a professional swim coach. My training schedule had ramped up to 10,000 meters that I had put in the week before race week, and on race week itself I scaled back to 3,600 meters and that was it, the idea being to relax and recover some before the big day.
I slept fitfully the night before, realizing that in a few short hours I was going to have to get up, swim 2.4 miles (as opposed to the 5 miles that the “varsity” players would swim), and then later in the day go to a Piccolo event at the Charleston Library Society where I was asked to introduce CNN and Newsweek’s John Avlon, who is out there promoting his outstanding new collection in book form of some of the greatest American newspaper columns ever written (“Deadline Artists: Scandals, Tragedies and Triumphs.”)
Like all these types of things, there was a buzz in the air as swimmers gathered at the Hobcaw Yacht Club, chatting and laughing it up before taking the plunge. Meanwhile, I was nibbling away on slices of sweet potato in an effort to “carb up” for a little extra energy. When the whistle finally blew at 7:30 a.m., we were off and after about 10 minutes of insecurity, I kind of found a certain zone and just had a nice comfortable swim, just sort of took it easy and felt my way down the course.
Conditions were perfect and the water temp was about 78. And wouldn’t you know it? As is the case with just about everything, the anticipatory trepidation exceeded the reality, by a long shot. I was well prepared and the swim was a delight. I’m not saying I lit up the time clock. Absolutely not (1 hr, 4 minutes); it was just a nice, relaxing swim and I’m already looking forward to next year.
The big surprise for me was the illusion of the race being nearly over once getting under the Cooper River Bridge. The finish line is at the other end of the Yorktown, which is so big that it’s easy to feel you’re on top of it, and it just seems to stay out of reach. And when you’re finally there, you then have to swim the length of the darn thing.
Oh, well. I’ll know what to expect next time. My impression is that 2.4 mile event is fairly easily doable for the average person who wants to put in a little prep, just as is a 10K run. The 5-mile swim and perhaps a half-marathon run are for more serious competitors. The event is well organized, supports a worthy charity and the post party was a blast with entertainment provided by guitar wiz Eddie Bush and his band.
People still send me cuttings from old Ashley Cooper columns that they’ve had in their collection for years. Jan G. Moore sends in one she thinks she’s had for at least 30 years, in which local insurance agent Jerry R. Rothschild wrote to his lordship about actual statements submitted to his insurance company and later published in the newsletter “Life With the Pilot.” Here are a few of them.
Coming home, I drove into the wrong house and collided with a tree I don’t have.
I collided with a stationary truck coming the other way.
I thought my window was down, but I found out it was up when I put my hand through it.
The guy was all over the road. I had to swerve a number of times to avoid hitting him.
I pulled away from the side of the road, glanced at my mother-in-law, and headed over the embankment.
An invisible car came out of nowhere, struck my car, and vanished.
The pedestrian had no idea which direction to run, so I ran over him.
As I approached the intersection, a sign accidentally appeared in place where no stop sign ever appeared before. I was unable to stop in time to avoid the accident.
I told the police that I was not injured, but upon removing my hat, found that I had a fractured skull.
I was thrown from my car as it left the road. I was later found in a ditch by some stray cows.
Edward M. Gilbreth is a Charleston physician. Reach him at edwardgilbreth@ comcast.net.