Despite the challenging tempo of the first few hours of our swim, I eventually find myself settling into a meditative state enabling me to become extraordinarily in tune with, and aware of, my aquatic surroundings. Carbohydrate feedings every 30-40 minutes seem to speed by. Graciously assisted by our Spanish crew, drinks are thrown to us from the zodiac as we tread water. My usual and ebullient chatter during these 30 second respites is purposely kept to a minimum. In a trance like state, I take a few gulps, express my thanks to the crew, and resume swimming.
Every sense is heightened dramatically. Sounds… smell… everything. It's a wonderland.
Back in my rhythm, I listen intently to the water swishing past my ears, muffled slightly by my earplugs. A meditative "whoosh" then gurgle that seem exactly the same with each stroke. As I breathe to my left I glance at Joe motoring along. I guess that's how an aquatic astronaut must look as he is suspended in space. The water is so incredibly clear and a relaxed calm swathes my mind.
Gazing into the depths below, rays of sunlight reflect back from the 3000-foot depths below. The light shines so acutely through the clean salty water making the bubbles from my hands sparkle. I marvel at how more beautiful the light has become as the now risen sun glistens from above. My hands move melodically through the water yet I can't help but notice familiar – yet small – gelatinous globules bumping my skin. Handful-sized jellyfish. Some jellyfish painful, others are mostly a sensory delight.
The salt begins to irritate my throat and sting my nostrils. Mouthwash is a simple, yet effective remedy, but I choose calories over rinsing my mouth out during the feedings. As my neck begins to chaff, I regret not paying more attention applying Vasoline to my body before the swim began. The salt is so course and dense that as I turn my head to breathe, creases of skin rub against each other like sandpaper. Resigned to the fact that there is nothing I can do to stop the chaffing, I wonder how bad these "strangulation" marks will look. I figure at least a good conversation starter. Poor Joe.
Cargo ships pass by ever so close; a few hundred yards away like ghosts they make no sound as they approach quickly and then vanish.
Gazing at the vast expanse of water that surrounds me, I feel like I am peering into a gigantic flat screen TV, waiting patiently for some marine creature to make an entrance. My mind turns to Morgan. She should be here with us. Perhaps the resident orcas will make an entrance. I scan the waters in front of me, listening carefully.
When all of a sudden I hear a symphony of squeaks echoing through the water…