Up at 4 AM, then a 2-hour drive to the Delaware shore.
It was supposed to be a half-mile swim. This was the finish turn buoy.
This buoy marked in the distance is the HALFWAY buoy. The start buoy is an equal distance farther down the beach.
It was a non-wetsuit event. The ocean water was very cold and despite appearances, rough. The buoys were small (basketball-sized) and very hard to sight. I did the walk down the beach a half mile with the other starters, got in the water, and fought my way freezing nearly out to the first buoy, doing mostly Tarzan strokes to try to see it. I found myself drifting far from the buoy, behind most of the other swimmers. I was already cold and struggling, and it felt like I was swimming in place.
I gave up. I told one of the lifeguards that I was going in, and turned back for the beach. Even returning to shore was difficult.
I got back to the beach after about 7 minutes elapsed (though it seemed much longer), and I think that it would have taken me at least 35 minutes (judging by when the other people came out of the water) to have finished the swim. It was some consolation that at least two other fit-looking men DNFd and were walking back in the same direction, though I'll have to check the results later.
I have another almost identical event at the Delaware shore in 3 weeks. My confidence is shaken. I have a lot of work to do before then. Damn.