Great Chesapeake Bay Swim recap, photos

I did it!

I finished the 4.4-mile Great Chesapeake Bay Swim in 2:22:05, good for 13th out of 26 in my age group, 74th among the 180 women, 237 out of 542 overall. I’ve done the 1-mile version twice, and placed in my age group each time. But in so many ways, for so many reasons, this was NOTHING like the 1-miler.

Watch for the full race report later this week. For now, a few observations, and some photos:

  • This was the hardest athletic event I’ve ever participated in. That includes several other open-water swims of distances up to 5K, and my two marathons, including one in which I suffered severe digestive difficulties. That means mentally and physically, since you had to adjust to changing conditions and expectations every few strokes, alternating between the euphoria of swimming long, smooth strokes beneath a monolithic feat of engineering and the frustration of spending an entire mile swimming at a 45-degree angle to go in a straight line against what was described by the race director as a “gentle” ebb tide. I never, ever want to experience a tide that is NOT gentle.
  • The people who sign up for this race are talented, well-trained swimmers. At the risk of sounding cocky, I’m used to being able to get out ahead of the “Cuisinart start” pretty quickly. Not the case yesterday. The lead pack of my wave (the slower of the two) stayed together for the entire first mile (which was a 23-minute breeze, by the way). So cool, and so humbling.
  • I’ve never done an open-water swim with such a sense of adventure. For most of the race, I’d lift up my head to sight, and realize my next marker was a shipping channel of the Chesapeake Bay, for goodness sake!
  • I’ve never felt LESS isolation during an open-water swim. Usually, there are long stretches when I’m all alone in the water. I was never farther than a few strokes away from another swimmer on Sunday. After that terrible second mile (did I mention how strong the tide was? And that I had to swim at a 45-degree angle to avoid getting sucked off the course? And that it took me 45 minutes? I did? Oh, OK), I stopped at a “snack boat” to get a Dixie cup of water and to commiserate with fellow swimmers—i.e., “That tide! 45 degrees! AmIright?AmIright?”

Now, a few photos:

Steve assists with my wetsuit.

Donna and I are smiling because we still believe that bit about the "gentle" tide.

This wetsuit felt fabulous on dry land in 80-plus-degree weather. (Or not).

Post-swim meal of crab bisque at Hemingway's. Post-race-meal photos are usually jokey and smiley. I look like I might weep in this one.


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15 responses to “Great Chesapeake Bay Swim recap, photos

  1. Bill

    congrats! that’s quite an accomplishment! very impressive and inspirational.

  2. Congratulations! I’m in awe. I did the one-mile and it was awesome. But there was one person (guy? girl? couldn’t tell) who did butterfly THE ENTIRE TIME. A mile of butterfly. Goal for next year?

    • The idea of a mile of butterfly in the Bay made me a little sick to my stomach. Congrats on the 1-miler … I may be joining you for that one again next year! (Though not with butterfly. Ever.)

    • Brian Suddeth

      Thanks for the shout out! Yes, I DID to fly the whole way. Not speedy, not pretty, but I made it! I don’t know if that was ever done in this event before. It was mentioned and had a good picture of me in the Annapolis Patch. “”. There’s also some video on youtoube that shows the 1-mile, and you can see me way on the left at the beginning of the vid. “”

      Thanks for the smile Charlotte!

      Brian Suddeth
      Bowie, MD

  3. Well-earned crab bisque – finishing in the middle of that really serious group of swimmers is an incredible accomplishment

  4. Amy, simply amazing. I’m in awe of this – both of the work it took to get here and yesterday’s accomplishment. Congratulations!!

  5. amy

    Congrats! I am so impressed!

    And, I’m excited to hear about the snack boat. Your swim prompted a whole conversation last week about how you fuel during an endurance open water swim.

  6. Congrats!! What an incredible accomplishment! That is some well earned crab bisque!

  7. monicacohen

    great job!! that second mile was TOUGH!!

  8. Amy, Congratulations on this huge accomplishment! I am so impressed. You kicked butt out there, and you should be so, so proud of this!

  9. congrats!!! i like how there was a ‘water stop’. sounds weird, but makes sense since you’re swimming for so long!

  10. Diana Sosnowski

    My husband and I (Diana) did the race for the 1st time on Sunday too!! YOu described the race just like i would have! Swimming the 2nd mile, I asked myself, am I the only person out here having trouble? I tohought I was going to whisked out of the bridge & lost at sea forever!! Maybe next year the ebb will be better

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