The dinning hall was empty. Andrieka, Aissatu and Rikki and I are in the photo. We just finished a sandwich and we are happy and tired. We successfully completed the four mile ocean swim! A little before 8 AM we gather on Sunset Beach and circle with our new yellow swim caps and our swim buddies for a final stretch. All hands are in the middle palms facing up to promote positive energy for a last cheer. We enter the water and our support team, all who completed the half marathon the day before, are with us cheering from the beach and from kayaks and boats.
Andrieka is my buddy and through her huge smile I sense her courage and her fear. The count down launches us into the clear shallow water and the acute angle of the sun casts shadows across the rocky bottom. We pull together over reefs into a flooding current. We swim over lobsters and rays and an abundance of colorful fish darting out to see what is splashing above. We pass a curious barracuda and a shy reef shark.
When we peak out around the first point the turn-around boat seems so far away. On the cliffs our run team cheers us on and Catherine Klem is there watching over us in a kayak.
On the way back there are times when you might call the kayak over and quit. Andrieka finds hidden strength down the last stretch of beach and hits the finish float. The shore erupts with celebration.
Andrieka and I swam together for four and a half hours to finish. Rikki and her buddy Ian passed us way back. Max re-injured his right shoulder and swam most of the way with only one good arm and never considered pulling out. Aissatu could not swim when she arrived 97 days ago and she braved her way to the finish with her buddy Emma in just under 6 hours.
This is why we are so proud and why the dining hall is so quiet. The journey continues.....