Monday, June 23, 2008

It was all about helping a friend..

This weekend, I took a break from Ironman training (shhhh...don't tell Hector or Im in deep you know what) to help a friend achieve a very special goal.  My good friend, Rick Stafford, completed the Swim Around Key West..a 12.5 mile endurance swim around the entire island in 5 hours and 41 minutes.  This was his first attempt at this distance and skill and was the first male to complete the event.  You'll notice that I didn't say he WON the event. lies the story.

Rick swims with a specially fitted snorkel because of facial and sinus reconstructive surgery he had as a child.  He has documentation to this fact, but the Race Director just would not approve of Rick using the snorkel and qualifying for any awards except for a finisher's medal.  Rick's attitude was wonderful...all he really wanted to do was just complete the event!

And in fine form...he did!  How do I know??  I kayaked 12.5 miles along with my friend Beth as Rick's support boat around the southernmost island.  It was an absolutely beautiful day with calm winds and flat calm waters as we departed in the first wave of the race.  Rick took an early lead and never looked back.  The swim course included paddling/swimming through the very active Key West Harbor complete with cruise ship traffic but between the Coast Guard vessels and Key West Marine Patrol, all the swimmers made it through without incident.

One of the unique things about being in the water for 5 hours and 41 minutes is the need for sun protection.  Rick literally COVERED his body from head to toe in Zinc Oxide.  Although it is waterproof, we had to apply  additional zinc at about mile 6 to make sure he didn't end up with a major burn.  Meanwhile, Beth and I had to be careful as well.  I decided to have fun with the oxide and put on a clown face..much to Beth's disbelief and amusement.  

In pure Rick Stafford fashion, aside from a little fatigue, the swim did not affect Rick physically.  He got up the next day and explored the island right along with us and was the perfect tacky tourist.  As soon as I get some pictures, Ill will add them to this post.

Hmmmmm...maybe I need to work on a few more miles of Lucky's Lake Swim for next year's event!!!

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