Hi Race fans! Although the Race is only a third of the way through, so much is happening. It’s incredible how far these turtles still have to go, even though they’ve already covered hundreds of kilometers. And I thought the 200m breaststroke was a test of endurance!
Speaking of which, being a breaststroke specialist has really helped me to prepare my turtles – Grembo Jones, Lindblad the Explorer, and Estéban – for the Race. We breaststrokers have to rely on stamina and leg strength – putting the most power to every stroke as possible. This means I’ve got a lot in common with leatherbacks, whose enormous fore-flippers and swimming muscles are built for strong swimming.
However, my three turtles have pretty strong personalities, which makes it difficult to hold their attention for very long. Grembo is a prankster and cannot hold still for longer than a few seconds; Lindblad is always staring out the window or exploring different corners of the pool; Estéban is always socializing, trying to figure out where the party is. Lucky for me, I like to stay busy with a variety of activities from swimming to modeling to public speaking to SCUBA diving, so I can keep up with them! I just hope some of what I’ve tried to teach them has sunk in!
Being involved in the Great Turtle Race is particularly special to me because I’ve long held a deep love and respect for the ocean world. I’m an avid diver and wildlife enthusiast, and free-swimming with sea turtles in their big blue ‘pool’ is about the most wonderful way I can think of to spend my time.
I’ve also been lucky enough to witness a female leatherback haul ashore, make a nest, and lay her eggs, in St. Croix, US Virgin Islands. The care that a mother turtle shows while into delicately sculpting her egg chamber with her rear flippers – which are her rudders while swimming – is absolutely mesmerizing. If you haven’t seen a sea turtle nest, you should make it a priority to do so.
It seems like most of my life is tied to water in some way, just like these turtles. This kind of lifestyle, combined with my first-hand experiences with the wonders of ocean life, has made it clear to me that safeguarding wet, wild places is a huge, but crucial task for humanity, turtles, and our shared blue planet.
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