As Barrie is always counting seconds, the countdown started a few seconds to 9:00 P.M. and sharp at that time I stepped on the water, slowly walked cautious on the slippery rocks breathing deep and calm; when I felt I could I dove in i did and then I swam underwater for a good 20-30 seconds until I came up to the surface and started swimming front crawl.
The whole world became just us in the water, As I swam forward the crew were just adjusting last moment things and eventually the cached up with me.
The first 20 minutes were very unconfortable, I felt weird, the goggles kept fillig up with water and made some pauses to fix them up until finally got them right.
Why the &%$#*& is this happening now if never before? I was thinking, but immediately came back to focus in the positive and just deal with the situation, "calm down, get them right and keep going" I thought.
Very quickly we got into the the first 30 minutes stop for food. Everything was pitch black by then so no visual contact of any kind but I hear them and everythig was just fine. I drank all the bottle and kept swimming.
Probably the more comfortable hours of the swim were the next 2.5 were if I do not remember exactly what my thoughts were I just know that I felt happy, in high spirits and thankful for the conditions up to that moment... until then, around midnight, just from one stroke to another the temperature dropped about 8 degrees or more.
Wow! I thought, this is a cold patch, lets see how long this last... I knew that the lake get colder and colder towards Toronto ... but never expected THAT cold just 3 hours into the swim. After 1/2 hour of that, I started panic-ish-ing and the next feeding stop I said to the boat: It's too cold, I do not feel right!
... 15 seconds
... 25 seconds and NO answer. I understood that they did not know really what to say and I was as in shock as they were as well.
After I finish my bottle I kept swimming for another 1/2 hour, however my panic did not disappear:
It's too cold I am very sore I said.
Miguel: (Kendra said) you didn't change the pace or stroke count per minute and you have an hour on his cold patch. Just keep going that you are doing just fine (or something nice like that) but I took it as Miguel: stop being a woosy, keep swimming and finish what you started!
The next two hours I spent swimming, thinking "what can I say to this guys that is credible, does not make me look bad and they just get me out of here" and then instead of saying anything I just spent countless minutes screaming into the water: "Get me out of here please"! but now I have to recognize (and hope you forgive me for this arrogant thought) that I never had enough lack of courage to actually stop and ask for the end of the swim. Deep inside of me this desire of success flame was alive and was pushing me through this stupid patch of cold water until after a bit more of 10 Km. the water warmed up again and quickly made a huge difference in my state of mind and mood.
Many people has asked me what was in my mind then, if the mp3 player worked, if I didn't feel that I needed to sleep, or what kept me awake...
I have this three answers:
1) In my mind I was just screaming get me out of here please! and my thoughts went from the most positive one, feeling incredibly privileged for having the chance of doing what I was doing, to asking myself stupid questions like: what if I have a heart attack now?
2) The mp3 worked incredibly well but at some point my mind just tuned out any other external sound or feeling. I was just very focused on keep going on the right direction, making sure that the boat was close enough from me (they were the ones following the right course therefore I had to make sure I follow them) and as everything was pretty dark I was just making sure that I was able to see the glow sticks attached to the edge of the boat all the time.
3) If you think I was sleepy, I can ask you to do this: Right around 11:00 P.M. or when you feel you are ready for bed, get into the shower, open the cold water ONLY! get there and while in there try to sleep.
Let me now how it works. I'll be very interested to know.
Anyway, when the water warmed up again I got happy again, I knew that was almost 5:00 A.M. and soon the sun was about to come to say hello. Also I thought: At least I will be here until the pacers get to swim a little bit otherwise they will kill me!
And suddenly I was able to see again. First I saw the silouette of the boat and little by little more and more details. More activity started, I saw the other little dingy going around me with Jim taking pictures and at that point Alan, the swim master stopped me and said: Miguel, I want you to turn around and see the sunrise: Is it not beautiful?
This simple nice words of Alan made me cry.
I cryed because was beautiful indeed, because I was exahusted already but beyond that, because that pause marked the fact that I did beat the night and it's stupid cold patch of water. I was still in there and ready to keep swimming in a new state of mind with all the help of my friends!