Swim

Race to Barbados

By OceanFirst on 1/4/18

Swimming can take you far in life. For Miss Lauren, her competitive open water swim career took her all the way to Barbados where she faced her fears, made new friends, and swam her heart out. Here is her story:

As the chill of fall began to hit, my body began to seriously crave a warm tropical reprieve. The high of my Horsetooth 10k swim was starting to wear off, so when I heard about a November 10k swim in Barbados, the decision to go was not a hard one to make. Armed with a cheap Airbnb room and a few ounces of courage, my first solo international adventure was about to begin!

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The Barbados Open Water Festival was a large gathering of open water swimmers like myself, who were all excited to attempt their feats of strength in such a beautiful paradise. In addition to the big 10k, the festival also included a handful of smaller swims around the island. My early-morning practices proved their worth immediately. Bonus: all of these races had lively socials after the swims, making my solo-travel worries float away as I made new friends with an international slew of like-minded folks. A personal highlight happened on one of the social swims up on northern part of the island where I had the surreal experience of a stunning sunset when I took a breath to my left, the full moon rising on my right breath, and sea turtles, coral and tropical fish swimming under me.

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As I was gearing up for the big 10k, I was getting worried about how the tropical bathwater would affect my performance. My previous swim was in 69ºF fresh water, this time it would be in 85ºF salt water. Thankfully, one of my new friends kindly offered to stand in waist deep water, hold my sports gels and water and wait for me to complete each 1+ mile lap. I don't know how I would have survived without him, as I could have easily succumbed to dehydration. Overall the race went very well; I dropped eight minutes off my time from September (sea level helped, current and heat did not) and placed in the top ten women behind a few olympians.

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With my big race done, I had time to explore the other activities that Barbados has to offer, including driving all across the island, scuba diving on their famous reefs, and tasting a few samples at the local rum distilleries. I am grateful that my passion for swimming has allowed me get out of my comfort zone, travel to new places, and make new friends from around the world. The big question: where will my swimming take me next??

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