Recent Splats according to Miz Yank

The Tampa Bay Swim and other forms of Capital Punishment

You know how something sounds like a perfectly good idea at the time and you find yourself saying “yes,” only to regret it later?

Well, the Tampa Bay 24-mile Marathon Swim was not such a thing. It sounded pretty sketchy when it was first mentioned to me, if I’m being honest.

Despite that, three things made me say “yes”:

1) A sense of athletic pride. This is a seriously misguided sense, one that forgets I’m 43 and recently injured myself taking out the trash. And I’m not talking about trash that included, say, a grand piano. I hauled out one measly kitchen bag loaded with nothing heftier than coffee grounds and blew out an elbow.

2) My good friend and longtime swimming buddy, BillI like Bill a lot, even though he attended the party where I met my now ex-husband and made no move that night to steer me toward something more harmless, like the cheese tray or a pack of rabid wolves. Anyway, Bill hatched a plan to form a relay team –the only sane way to swim 24 miles–and needed at least one woman to make it co-ed.

3) The team name: Capital Punishment. I have long believed that a great team name can obscure a serious lack of skill, as evidenced by my tenure with the Smash Hits.

 Capital Punishment began as a six-person team, which meant each person would have to swim four miles. This sounded manageable, since all of us are lifelong swimmers who crank out two miles or more regularly(ish). But shortly after registering our team, we lost a dude to injury. (The other members of Capital Punishment are both older than I and responsible for trash removal in their respective homes, so really, it was just a matter of time.)

Five miles per person seemed doable, but then a family event crossed another name off our roster. At six miles per person, Capital Punishment was in trouble and Bill knew it. Desperate to get our ranks up to at least five, Bill enlisted the aid of the race organizer, who helped us draft a dude from Tampa.

I don’t know any of my teammates except Bill, and I won’t meet them until I’m in Tampa, but I’m not worried about that. Because each person will swim for 30 minutes at a time while the rest of us hang out in the boat, awaiting our turn, I figure I’ll have upwards of ten hours to get to know the other boys in the boat.

 I also have yet to see a course map—Capital Punishment’s pre-race prep centered on securing deluxe accommodations  near a restaurant with a rock-solid wine list –and am opting just to be surprised.

But I did force myself to take a gander at the weather. The Saturday forecast calls for air temps between 80-90 and water temps around 80, which sounds great to me. What does not sound so great is the likelihood of a 15-mile per hour “sea breeze.”

In my world, a sea breeze is a cocktail, not a euphemism for a wind strong enough to blow a hat off your head. (I will be wearing a bathing cap, and if the sea breeze blows that off my head, then Capital Punishment is officially on its own.)

For every person thinking, “How could this possibly go wrong?” there’s another asking, “and how can I see it?”

You can watch our progress here. As spectator sports go, this open water swim promises the kind of heart-stopping excitement rivaled only by watching your arm hair grow.

If ever a situation cried out, “Good luck with that thing you’re doing,” this is it.

I've got goggles and a suit that's visible to astronauts orbiting Earth. The only thing I'm missing is a flask...

I’ve got goggles and a suit that’s visible to astronauts orbiting Earth. The only thing I’m missing is a flask…


  1. Can’t wait to hear how this goes. The most memorable swim of my life was the swim in St. Pete Bay for the St. Anthony’s Tri (right under a mile) few years ago. There was some disturbance of the coast and a heavy chop. Just practice a bit when you get down there. And there’s a huge Tri group in area the st Pete Mad Dogs. They obviously swim in all conditions there. Ask them for advice. You are a beast. Will be thinking about you on Saturday. “Just keep swimming.”

    • miz yank says:

      Thanks, Jamie! “Just keep swimming” is excellent advice, especially since that cute little “sea breeze” will almost certainly create a chop. I’ll keep you posted!

  2. Bill Sullivan says:

    Speaking as th aforementioned “Bill” — your buddy who loves you, but neglected to guide you towards that pack of hungry wolves in lieu of your future and ex husband — I am glad you are with us. Nothing like ten hours in a boat, intermingled with 5+ miles of open water swimming, to make for a great weekend. I have spoken with both the sharks and the jelly fish, and both are otherwise occupied this weekend.

    Good luck with…. 🙂

    • What an amazing race, Bill! It was a pleasure and a privilege. I can say this now that I’m back on dry land. 🙂

  3. tommy schwartz says:

    It was great to meet you on our race across Tampa Bay. You were a great asset to the team and brave when the conditions were iffy at times. I was glad you jumped in for the last half mile or so, I was getting tired and enjoyed the company! I think you may have found a new outlet in the open water world! Hopefully our paths will cross again!

    • Thanks for the incredibly kind words, Tommy. I had the best time swimming with you! And I wouldn’t trade anything for the camaraderie of that last half mile. It isn’t hyperbole to say we couldn’t have done it without you!


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