When I was trained to be a pool lifeguard, I was warned about middle-aged swimmers who had been competitive athletes and/or lifeguards. “Those guys think they are stronger than they really are.”
The waters off Kauai are fantastic. They’re warm and inviting. For months, Alexis and I told the kids all about the bright fish you can see and the warm, gentle surf. The first time I went into the water with Elana, age 9, our water safety skills were put to the test. Elana is a powerful swimmer for her age and size. The waves were choppy at the beach’s edge, so I carried her into the water. Both of us enjoyed ourselves greatly, but after a few minutes, I found myself suddenly short of breath. I’d been even more physically active than usual for the previous couple of days, and I just found myself out of gas without warning. I told Elana I was in trouble and that she’d have to swim ashore on her own. Both of us made it to the beach without further incident. I spent the next few minutes gasping for air, pleased with myself for not drowning.
In decades of ocean swimming, I’ve been caught in many riptides and I’ve done plenty of open ocean swimming. This was the most frightening 90 seconds I’ve had in the water. It’s a good thing that Elana had been well-instructed in water safety. It’s important for us aging ex-athletes to know our limits.
Here I am the next day, no worse for wear and ready for several hours of superb Kauai swimming!