We made the trip to Lake St. John on May 15th. The forecast was for afternoon rain, but I was a little worried about the low clouds as we drove west on I-20 toward Vicksburg. We got to the camp house and eventually everyone was in the water - 4 kayaks and a flat bottom fishing boat followed 4 swimmers – Kate, Paul, Mariel and myself. The weather was deteriorating with the line of thunderstorms approaching, so we chose not to swim our triangular path across the lake and back. Instead, we swam parallel to the shore and about 100 yards out, upwind and into some choppy water for ¾ mile, then lined ourselves up with the waves and headed back.
The waves swimming out were hitting us slightly from the left, so I found it difficult to breathe on the left without swallowing a lot of water. I resigned myself to breathing only on the right. I like the right better anyway. The water was cool and comfortable, but likely contributed to some cramping in my feet and calves. I dealt with all the minor cramps, but I got a pretty severe one that turned my left foot inward and hurt like hell. It was one that would have made me grab the edge of the pool or the lane rope, but lacking those, I had to call my trusty kayak escort Susan to paddle over and let me hang on for a minute.
We swam 1.6 miles in about 55 minutes, a 34 minute mile pace. Considering the rough water, that wasn’t too bad. I found it pretty tiring and felt some pain in my left forearm, something new to me. Maybe it was caused by breathing on the right all the time and using the left arm to raise my head a little more.
I was the last swimmer out of the water, of course, and just as we got all the kayaks out and situated the storm rolled in. We would have been very uncomfortable in the middle of the lake in that storm. We ate a nice lunch of muffalettas, chips, pimento cheese and chicken salad, got clean and dry and headed back home. The rain kept Kate and me from getting in a bike ride around the lake.
Overall, the swim wasn’t too bad, and we all agreed that a 3 mile+ reservoir swim might be harder than we had thought. That swim will include some rest stops, though. Our tentative date for the “Reservoir Swim & Kayak Challenge” is July 11.