We’re not part of their food chain

Great White Caught in the Sea of Cortez (www.petethomasoutdoors.com)

Great White Caught in the Sea of Cortez (www.petethomasoutdoors.com)

Since July 11th, when we swam the Strait of Gibraltar, a lot has happened in my life–I moved to the US with my two daughters for the school year. They are in their first English-speaking school and we’re living in Tiburon, California (I know–the irony of the name is not lost on me). My husband is in Spain, so I’m single parenting in a new community. It’s been a weird year.

One of the great things that’s happened since I arrived in this new community is meeting a guy named Vito Bialla. He’s the leader of a group of open water swimmers called Night Train Swimmers and they’re fast, intrepid, fun, and I’m lucky that they’ve invited me to be a part. A couple of months ago, Vito approached me about forming a six-swimmer relay team to swim across the Sea of Cortez. If we make it, we’d be the first group to have successfully completed the swim; jellyfish stings and unpredictable weather have thwarted previous attempts. We’re set to swim on June 3rd, just a few months from now. Allow me share with you where my head is today (and any advice is welcome):

1. I need to not let the fact that the Sea of Cortez is famous for its rich marine life, like this 20 ft and 2,000 lb. great white shark, bother me.  When I swam across the Strait of Gibraltar, I was pretty sure nothing was going to eat me, but the Sea of Cortez is a whole different beast (so to speak). I like how Vito says that we’re not part of the food chain. Logical enough, right?

2. I need to prepare myself that I’ll be swimming in pitch black dark in the middle of the night. In this continuous relay of 101 miles (163 km), each swimmer will do 2 one hour long night swims and 2 one hour long day swims. The swim will last for at least 48 hours, so that means 4 hours of night swimming. And I hear that the boat does not shine a spotlight on you because that attracts fish that attract larger fish (see point 1).

3. I’ll need to practice lathering my body with thick white body butter to protect my skin from jellyfish stings. I’ve seen photos: it’s a hot look.

4. I’ll be a bit boring at my 20th college reunion that is 2 days before the big swim. But hey, just like in college, swimmers had to go dry before the big meets.

5. Since this is my first relay swim, I’ll need to be prepared to not get much rest for a long stretch of time- you’re in the water every five hours for over 2 days. And when you’re on the boat, you’re supporting your team, nourishing yourself, and lathering your body with more body butter.

Like this past summer, the only way to do something like this is to do it for something larger than me– so, we’re raising money again for Worldreader. Take a peek at Sueño88 to learn more. What I love about it is the plan to enter Latin America in early 2015, and in particular Mexico, a country that is close to my heart. As this New York Times article states, there are more illiterate people in Mexico than 12 years ago, and in a recent UNESCO assessment of reading habits, Mexico took the penultimate spot out of 108 countries. Worldreader’s work could reverse this trend and foster a reading culture so that people can change their lives for the best. This is why I hope that Worldreader soon enters Mexico and it’s a huge reason why I’m excited about this swim.



Categories: Marine life, Open Water, Sea of Cortez

Tags: , ,

3 replies

  1. It will be a great adventure. It is my first relay too, but the fact that we are raising money to help children in Mexico is a big incentive.

  2. Amazing project!! You can count with all the support I am able to provide. So inspiring!!

  3. Wow, such an inspiration. It will be a grand adventure and story. Good luck. Cannot wait to hear all about it. I am toying with setting up a relay channel swim for my 45th birthday…may need some advice.

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