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Lexie is a professional marathon swimmer who competes on the FINA Open Water Swimming Grand Prix circuit. I am her coach. In her last race with me, she yelled, "Give me a gel pack. If you are going to leave me, I want a gel pack."
In the middle of the 34 km Traversée Internationale du Lac Memphrémagog in Quebec, Canada, Lexie's escort boat engine kept on having trouble and stalling. She would swim and swim and then be all alone when our boat stalled. I was not panicking, but simply worried that I could not feed her as scheduled. But swimming alone in the middle of a giant lake without an escort did not stop the 26-year-old Californian.
Things always happen in the open water and engine problems are just one of the many possible variables.
Lexie simply wanted to be prepared if she had to swim alone the rest of the 21-mile race without me or her crew. "I am putting this gel pack in my suit ." Not knowing when her next feeding would be, she swam off. An emergency security boat later came up besides her, watching her in lieu of our absence in her main escort boat.
After stalling repeatedly in the rainy, stormy conditions, the Traversée's mechanic was called out on the race course and completely refitted our boat with a new engine: right in the middle of the race, right in the middle of Lac Memphrémago. When worse comes to worse, the open water swimmers put their head down and just keep moving forward.
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