Tuesday, July 26, 2005

SEBA #3: The Day I Almost Lost Wil

The Great Suburban Outback's triple digit heat wave has moved on to torture some other poor folk, thus SEBA #3 dawned cool and cloudy, with forecasted thunderstorms and other nasty stuff. Wil and I jumped off the St. Joe pier and began the 1.2 mile swim in waves that got progressively bigger as we went.

Halfway through, I was swimming maybe 50 yards ahead of her, and slightly further from shore. I'd stop every few minutes and look back to make sure she was OK and making positive progress. We'd wave and then get about our business. This time I stopped, turned around, looked...and she wasn't there.

I floated for a few minutes, searching the horizon whenever I'd hit the crest of a wave. No Wil. After a few more minutes, I made for shallower waters where I could stand above the waves and get a really good look around. Still no Wil. I was feeling...uneasy.

I headed for the sand and ran 100 yards up and down the beach looking and calling. The only answers came from seagulls, angry that I'd interrupted their dead fish lunch. Up and down, back and forth I went, from where I last saw her to where I thought she could be. Nothing. The relative height of the nearest dune offered a better vantage point, but still there was no pink swim cap or Awesome Training Partner wave anywhere to be seen. At this point (15 minutes after my last Wil sighting) I was feeling...helpless, terrified...you name it.

Desperation setting in, I ran up the dune to the nearest house, rang the doorbell and asked the poor woman (who I'd obviously awakened) if she had a pair of binoculars I could use. She did but they were no help. Back to the house I went, this time to call 911. Seven minutes later the police and Coast Guard were there; we were walking up the beach toward the swim exit at Jean Clock Park when a call came on the radio that THEY'D FOUND HER!

I guess Wil has always wanted to escape to Wisconsin; today she tried to swim there. Far off course and far from shore, the waves were so big that she was a tiny speck alone in a great big sea. Unaware of the turmoil, she just kept swimming - right past me and all the way to Jean Clock. I imagine she was a bit surprised to have the Coast Guard waiting for her!

So the story has a happy ending though I think it cost me a couple of years of longevity! Oh, yeah; we biked and stuff too.


Wil said...

Man, that was such a crazy ride!!! You were definitely the Knight in Shining Neoprene, thanks again for making sure that I wasn't fish food! You're awesome!

Shelley said...

Good god, you guys are freaking me out...now quit it will ya!!
Thank god Wil was fine and she had you there to look out for her!!

Keryn said...

Whew! You had me scared there! Glad to know everyone is all right. Thank goodness there will be buoys at Steelhead. :)

bunnygirl said...

Wow, that's the stuff of nightmares! Thank goodness it all turned out okay.

This is the sort of thing you're going to laugh about later, right? Right?

Vertical Man said...

Yeah, I'll laugh about it, I guess. In 6 months!

tarheeltri said...

My stomach hurts jsut thinking about that panic you must have felt. Whew!

Flatman said...

Eegads, I had a panic attack just reading it...I can't imagine how you felt!

Double Yikes!

mipper said...

oh poor VM! i could completely sense your freak out in that post. thank goodness you kept your head about you and called 911. you are an ATP for sure. now, do you think you will be able to race steelhead now without worrying? you poor guy. you deserve a medal or a cheesecake or something!

Phil said...

Sure 6 months from now, it may seem silly; but, you did the right thing. (You don't happen to have a Polar Heart Rate graph of the ordeal do you?)