As with my first swim, the plans for my second swim in Haida Gwaii evolved over the week as I reconciled my life as an ultra-marathon swimmer and that of a community member and friend. When you have time and space to just be, you find your true path.
My original goal was to swim from Ḵay Llnagaay to Balance Rock and back – a 10 kilometre swim. I wanted to swim it on my own. After swimming from Jags to Skyass with Aly and Ben, I changed my mind. I wanted to share the experience of this beautiful water-way with my friends, with those who bring me joy. I wanted to be with them. And I wanted to build on the momentum of the Skyass swim. Ben had not been swimming with me as much as he once did. Having him swim with me meant more to me than many will ever understand. Water is a place of healing.
Aly, Ben, Krissy, Reg and I spent some time chatting about the best approach to the swim so we could all participate in a meaningful way. We decided that Aly and I would start at Ḵay Llnagaay, Ben would join us at Jags. We would swim past the village of Skidegate together. Ben would exit at the tip of the village and Aly and I would carry on to Balance Rock and then swim back. Reg and Krissy would escort us and Ray be on land to pick us up in an emergency. But that’s not what happened.
On July 5, with permission from the Haida Nation and escorted by Reg, Aly and I entered the water at Ḵay Llnagaay. It was a beautiful warm day with minimal wind. The water was approximately 12C. We shoreline swam to Jags where we met Ben. The three of us then swam together across the bay past the village of Skidegate.
What was most notable about where we were swimming, was the never-ending eelgrass meadows. I have seen eelgrass before but never so plentiful. It was beautiful to swim amongst the grass where so many sea creatures swim.
As the tide ebbed, it became impossible to swim through the thick beds and Ben would not be able to exit where we had hoped. We quickly reorganized, abandoning the idea of swimming to Balance Rock, and headed toward shore so he could exit. I really wanted to stay together as a group and support one another rather than swim regardless of one another. It was a big deal for Ben to take on this swim. I wanted him to know we were there with him.
Once Ben exited, Aly and I continued along to Jags where she opted to exit as well. Her hands were beginning to numb. I continued onto Ḵay Llnagaay supported by Reg where Aly and Ray met me by the beach.
I never look back on swims with regret, I only look back to understand the lessons. I am grateful we were able to swim in such a beautiful waterway and learn from her endless teachings.