Geoff Hodgson swims 15km for Rhinos Without Borders!

At 5AM I was lying in bed and the rain was torrential, at 6 Christine was preparing my “meals”, some flatbread with avo, broth, baby-food and fruit, mostly bananas.

After mirror-like conditions and loons the evening before, we had rain through the night and torrential rain at 5AM, and I’m sure those who were going to be in canoes and boats were having second thoughts. It was oak for me, I was going to be wet anyway, but I was uncomfortable for everyone else whose intention it was to stay dry. But just after 7 it all cleared up into a perfect Haliburton Highlands day, sunshine, 19 to start, warming up to high 20s, and not a breath of wind all day. The perfect day for swim.

s27 - some dockside encouragement
In all we were about 25 people at the start, almost everyone was named Paul – some local Ingoldsbians were interested enough in the whole affair to wake up at 06H30 in the rain to see us off, we salute you, it was good to have a group at the start, kind of makes it all quite official. Cedar Grove Cabins in Ingoldsby comped us a room for the night, so it was super stress-free. I woke up with all kinds of shoulder and neck knots, which Hugo (top notch, the best!) helped remove, I don’t think the day’s outcome would have been the same without his help.

The water at Ingoldsby was warm, even at 07H25, I had a feeling we were in for a good day – all my stressing about being too cold, about high winds and swell were for nothing.

s14 - Leaving Ingoldsby, no wetsuit for Geoff
Paul M was first to jump into the water with me, and we carved through the mirror in a clear V for 2.5k, Jim jumped in at 2k, swimming a total of 11k – amazing. It was as hard for me to to keep up as it appears it was for him to slow down, it was super-cool having company in the water with me. Hugo also did around 6k + a k with me – Scott calls it his training program, swim train 4 times, then race 6k.

s18 - Christine and MelChristine and Melanie were canoeing along and feeding us along the way, flat-breads with avo and humus, bananas, baby-food, gels, you name it, even water-melon. It was just like a day hang in’ out at the lake. Allan, Paul Z and Kate were in the mellow yellow canoe, totally awesome to have the boats along with us, it did a great job of keeping the “unfriendlies” away.

ssDSC_0687Thanks Allan, Paul and Kate, big time (Allan for cancelling Iroquois for this day). Andrew, Carol and their daughters Kate and Avril were in the motor boat kindly donated by RPM Marina for the day,  allowing swimmers in and out of the water, fending off other boats and offering the firepower support that made us all feel really comfortable. Even Don had his boat out for more backup.

I’d be lying if I said I powered through the whole day. At 10k I was starting to tire somewhat, so from there on I started short periods of rest and occasionally breast-stroke, but I think I kept strong all the way to the end – at least my swimming felt strong, even if I was hurting. The main body of water at the start was less intimidating than I thought it might be, too early for boats and flat and calm as an oil-slick, so we made a bee-line for the far corner into the first narrows, no sweat. The narrows were quite lekker, swimming by cottages, some people even came down to say hi and cheer a little, they’d obviously heard about the event on Canoe FM, read about it in the local papers, or seen Susan Hay’s clip on Global. After the narrows we were in the mid-section, about a km wide, and 6 or 7 long, swimming up the west shore, then crossing over again into the second narrows and more cottages. From there we entered the penultimate lake (where we would return to in an hour for burgers and beer) and past RPM Marina, where they were cheering like banshees. Swimming through the channel under the bridge our ground-speed slowed, as the 1.5-2km/h-flow countered, but after this, it was a km across head lake to the finish. I desperately wanted to stop, but the crowd of around 40 at the finish made me finish strong. I managed to do it “official”, no holding onto boats, no touching ground, and no wetsuit (ahem, wetsuits, hello, 23 degree water!), I even kept my swimming trunks on the whole way (I think that’s a rule as well…)

s21 - off again, 8.10 a.m.
All in all it was an amazing day, the water was as warm as Haliburton Highlands water can be – low to possibly even mid 20s, quite unbelievable. My arms were very tired – this was not my best swim of the year, training in TO is very hard with very limited pool times (even more so in summer) and no local lake swimming spot (I won’t miss the 1 hour commute to Gullivers Lake every weekend), but I did what I could to maintain all the winter and spring strength and fitness I had built up.

I did it in the end, my time 5.58, that’s around 2.5km/h total.

Murray and Helen were at the finish – amazing for you guys to have driven up all the way from Toronto just for a burger, and to se me finish, Jackie D, a fellow subscriber to that-sounds-like-fun-oh-sh!t-what-have-I-gotten-myself-into weekly. We also met some fantastic people, Gay Bell and Louise, Kathy Sweeney and Paul Dillon, the Henderson family from Cedar Grove Cabins, Lisa and the other wonderful people from RPM Marina, and the people along the way who came out to cheer.  The Dunsmore family put on a kick-ass chill-time BBQ afterwards at their cottage, quite the crowd, and beer was by the Reisborough family. That was my kind of afternoon. The Levitt family were gracious enough to put up with us for the Saturday night, huge thanks!

Everyone really came out big-time to support. We raised a tremendous amount of awareness and support for the plight of the rhino and Rhinos Without Borders and raised over $6,600 (897% of my (admittedly arbitrary) goal), and still more coming in as we speak. MASSIVE SALUTE to all those who gave so generously! You all know who you are, and so do I. A total success in every way. I hope everyone had as much fun through this adventure as I did. Oh, and the Haliburton Highlands total rock – rent a boat from RPM Marina, stay at Cedar Grove Cottages in Ingoldsby, or just visit Kashagawigamog. It’ll change you.
And don’t forget about the rhinos – there’s still a lot of work to be done. Be a part of it, we’ve only got one crack at this – this year and next are a tipping point.

Ah, I know what you’re asking. No, this is NOT an annual event. Anyone for a 5k?

s21 - off again, 8.10 a.m.