I emerged from the water and bounded towards the big red buoy that marked the finish line for the Escape from Managaha. As I made my way closer to the finish line, the crowd, about 30 strong, cheered me on to victory. It got louder as I got closer. Then with a dramatic flair, I jumped face first into the giant buoy.
I did it. I finished the swim from Managaha to Micro Beach. For the rest of my life, if anybody will actually listen, I'm going to tell anybody and everybody that I completed that swim. Every time we drive by that island I'm going to point out that I once swam from there to Garapan. I'm going to tell my kids about it when I actually have kids.
I'm sure you're all looking forward to it.
Managaha is the little island in the photo on the top of this blog. It is inside the Saipan Lagoon, about 2 miles due north of Garapan. I did a post on Managaha back in April.
This is the fourth year that the Saipan Swim Club has hosted the Escape. They use the money to send swimmers to off-island competitions.
I was kicking around the idea of attempting the swim ever since I heard about it, but it wasn't until I found out that our friend Tina was competing that I decided to absolutely give it a go.
The night before the event, I recruited AGO Joe to attempt the swim with me. However, we almost didn't compete. The entry form said to meet at the Smiling Cove Docks at 7:00 AM. We were there at 6:30, but we were the only ones. No one else was there.
To put it mildly, that kind of sucked.
So we drove around Smiling Cove. We didn't see anybody in the main cove or up by the Jambalaya Managaha ferry, either. I saw something on the Internet about them meeting at Hafa Adai Hotel, so we went there, but they told us to go to the Hyatt. I was pretty sure they weren't meeting at the Hyatt, so we went back to Smiling Cove and then over to the dock where the Tinian Dynasty Casino ferry docks. They charged us $1 to do a u-turn. To put it mildly, that really sucked.
At 7:00 we pretty much gave up. I had one last idea, which was to go look for the people setting up the barbeque on Micro Beach. At 7:10 we ran into Sam on Micro Beach, who pointed out the ferry, loaded with swimmers, happily making its way to Managaha.
He told us that at the last minute they had changed the location of the departure. Instead of meeting at Smiling Cove, they met at the submarine dock, which is about half a mile away from Smiling Cove. Oops! Apparently, no one thought to put up a sign at Smiling Cove telling people who didn't get the message to go to the other location.
We were just going to go home, but Sam told us to go over to the people barbequing and tell them what happened. I was hesitant, but I went over anyways. I told them what happened and they said that it was in the newspapers on Friday (which it was, see HERE and HERE). Then they got a speed boat to come over from Managaha to pick us up. The boat even came back a second time to pick up three swimmers that apparently didn't read the paper, either.
The race went off in three heats: Beginners first, followed by intermediates 10 minutes later, with the competitive swimmers starting 10 minutes after that. AGO Joe and I were in the intermediate heat.
We should have gone in the beginner heat. Oh well, live and learn, right?
The fastest swimmer finished in about 40 minutes. It took me 1:24 to make the crossing, almost twice as long. Joe and I also managed to swim way off course (I think we started heading towards Palau), and oh yeah, Joe got pulled out of the water about half way through, but that's neither here nor there.
So anyways, I finished. I get bragging rights. Let's just not mention that I got last place.