Thursday, 10 October 2013

Swimming the Grand Canyon: What larks!

Late September saw a posse of Wett Ones on a Strel Swimming tour to Lake Powell in the US state of Arizona. Lake Powell is younger than this writer, the result of damming the Colorado River to create a 658-square-kilometre aquatic paradise in the Grand Canyon. Lake Powell defines the border between Utah and Arizona – or, as Americans say, the state line.

Before the trip I was a bit anxious; Would I  be able to keep up? Would my wonky shoulder last the trip? Was the swimming going to be good enough to justify flying to the other side of the world? Would we all get on?

Wett Ones had swimsuits made in hues inspired by the red earth and blue sky of Arizona. Squabbling over the designs – colours, cuts, sizes – didn’t bode well for us getting along on the holiday itself.

No worries! The experience was wonderful, far beyond my expectations. I kept up and my shoulder held out. I made new friends and strengthened old friendships. We all got on like a log cabin on fire.  

The holiday was arranged by Borut Strel. We were lucky enough to have his dad, Martin, with us too. Martin is known as the River Man, having swum the entire length of the Amazon. After that, splashing about in Lake Powell is like having a bath.

Our group numbered 12: seven Wettones (Lindy, Kari, Scott, Matt, Rowan, Nori and Nick), a couple from Canada (John and Francis) and from San Francisco, Mariam and Mohammad. Rounding out the group was Patty, an industrial-strength open-water swimmer from Galveston, Texas.

The tour lasted fou r days with three days swimming. We went out each day on one of two speedboats, one captained by Rusty, who has plied the placid waterway for most of his life and almost all of its life. We buddied up so we never swam alone. We were watched over on our 2-kilometres dips by Bonny on her paddle board and the two boats. Back on the boat and off to swim in another awesomely beautiful spot.  Borut’s pasta-and-salad lunches were perfect. We swam in canyons, through rocky mazes and into caves. We took thousands of photos of each other and the scenery.

 The water was clear and the lake deserted. After Aprez-swimming was a shower at the Holiday Inn hotel and then eating and drinking and having fun. Ranked highly were the Mojitos and the Japanese Chardonnay. The best dessert was the Yum Yum Bombs (Deep friend tempura Oreos with  cream and chocolate sauce). Then it was back to upload our experiences on Facebook

On the last day we had a bit of drama as the National Park was closed due to US Government shut-down. We snuck in anyway, avoiding the rangers, and swam 4 kilometres worth of quiet snaky canyons close to the marina. (As some wag said about the US government: Had Obama tried turning it off and turning it on again? That sometimes works.)

                        The Wetties: (L to R) Nori, Matt, Lindy, Rowan, Nick, Kari and Scott





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