Friday, March 28, 2014

The Fantasy Swimming Report: Introduction

Welcome to the FSR. As part of my ongoing effort to distract myself from my chosen fake profession* of fantasy golf writer (and inspired by the fact that it's been the shittiest spring for golf in the Mid-Atlantic since I began caring about playing golf in the spring in the Mid-Atlantic), I've decided to search-out something new to write about in the hopes that a change of subject scenery will help shake me out of this golf forecasting funk. So in addition to my weekly attempts to pick the winner of an event that has between 144 and 156 participants competing on a venue that can include wind, water, sand, rain and even extreme temperatures (it's kind of like The Hunger Games with douche bags yelling "Mashed Potatoes" every time a kid gets killed), I'm going to try to mix-in a few other recurring topics and this is going to be one of them.

I was looking for a sport where
you don't have to buy anything,
sell anything or process anything.
What exactly is the topic you ask? Well it's a sport that's sweeping the nation. No, not jousting**. . . it's open water swimming where you go find yourself a suitable body of water such as a river, a lake or even an ocean and then you either (a) swim from one side to the other or (b) swim around some buoys until you end-up right back where you started. It kind of falls into the Tough Mudder/Spartan race category where if you give it a name and make it sound like you're challenging people's manhood or womanhood, some of those people will be dumb enough to take the bait and do it. And I am one of those people.

My chosen event this year is the Great Chesapeake Bay Swim (a/k/a the GCBS). I assume that the founder decided to put the "Great" in front of the name for the same reason that F. Scott Fitzgerald and Charles Dickens did because no one would want to swim in something just called the Chesapeake Bay Swim just like no one would have read books called "Gatsby" or "Expectations." But you throw the word "Great" into the equation and BOOM . . . sign me up. (Or maybe the founder just really thinks the Chesapeake Bay itself is "great" and the word "great" is not meant to embellish the swim . . . but I digress). The GCBS is ten weeks from this Sunday and over that time I intend to drop-in a bit of writing here and there covering why I'm doing it and how I plan to do it. At this point, I'm not entirely convinced by my answer to either question so maybe writing about it will get me there. Then again, maybe it won't and I'll just spend three hours on June 8th trying not to drowned for no discernible reason. For now, let's start with the basics of the swim itself and why I decided to write about it.

I just shit myself a little.
The GCBS begins on a beach near one end of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, a dual-span bridge that connects Maryland's Eastern Shore (the redneck side) with its Western Shore (the snooty side). After entering the water, swimmers cut into the area between the two spans which form the boundaries for the 4.4 mile swim to the other side. If you're trying to get a sense of what a 4.4 mile swim is, go to a 25 yard lap pool and swim from one end to the other. OK, now do that about 309 more times and you're there. (God help me).***

I had no intention of writing about this before I attempted it but then I was talking to a friend of mine about the swim in between Irish Car Bombs**** while watching the NFC Championship Game in January and he suggested that I should because it would be a great motivator. My first reaction to the idea was that it was utterly preposterous because what if I fail miserably and have to be fished-out of the Bay and driven back to shore in what I would imagine is referred to as the "Vessel of Shame." But then I remembered one of the great lessons I learned during law school which is that there is no greater motivator than the fear of public humiliation. So at this point, my rallying cry is "Don't Fuck This Up or You'll Look Like Jerk!" It's a work in progress.

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* I'm pretty sure that somewhere in the definition of the word "profession" there is a reference to payment. Yup, there it is right in the second word - "a paid occupation." So far, this is not that.

** Funny story (yeah, we'll see). In the early 90's I was in the store manager training program for Herman's Sporting Goods. (This was back in the days before the FGW made it clear that she was not going to marry a guy who ate at Sbarro everyday and worked in between the Jordan Kitts piano store and Chess King). During one part of the training, we had to do a presentation on a new product line that Herman's should start carrying and why. At the time, jousting was the official sport of the State of Maryland (that made the words "forward thinking" pop into your head didn't it?) so I thought it would be humorous to propose that we ride the jousting spirit (get it?) by carrying a full line of lances, armour, saddles, etc. Suffice it to say, it killed with my fellow trainees but not so much with the guy running the show. Fortunately, it was not exactly a bunch of cut-throat Fortune 500 executed wannabes I was up against so I don't think it impacted my standing with the company. Herman's would be run out of business by Dick's and Sports Authority two years later but I was safely in law school by then honing my wise-ass skills into revenue generating tools that would ultimately make me a worthy suitor.

Ok ok but I'm just doing one. Really.
*** I am taking the position that this would only constitute bragging if I had completed the swim already. If I do finish it, I will inevitably describe it in great detail at which point that will be bragging.

**** In a related story, my decision to give-up drinking while I train has given way to what I hope is a more realistic goal of giving-up Irish Car Bombs. The over/under on when I break that pact with myself is April 13th when the final round of the Masters will surely be my Waterloo.