Cute but mean

There’s a pond about 15 minutes’ drive from our house where I practice my open water swimming about once a week. Last weekend, I was swimming with some other athletes, and I had my wetsuit on first, so I took a few strokes by myself to get acclimated. As I was doing this, I saw something like a stick protruding from the surface of the water directly in my path. I didn’t think anything of it until I was 3 or 4 yards away, and it vanished.

I realized it wasn’t a stick at all, but the head of some kind of creature, probably a turtle. And it reminded me that in open water swimming, I’m usually sharing the water with creatures who are more at home in it than I am. It usually isn’t as bad as sharing a lane with another swimmer at the pool, but it’s a little disquieting sometimes.

I’m glad I don’t live in Florida, where I imagine you often have to share the water with alligators. And now, I’m glad I don’t live in Duluth. According to an article in the Star Tribune on Monday, a triathlete named Leah Prudhomme, swimming in Island Lake near Duluth, Minnesota, was attacked by an otter.

Photo “Otter” by William Warby from Flickr. Creative Commons license.

The otter in the photo is not the one that attacked her. I found the photo on Flickr and put it up there as decoration and to show you what an otter looks like, on the slim chance you don’t know.

At 33, Prudhomme is not geriatric, but what happened to her doesn’t seem to be age related. The little beast bit her 25 times, shredding her wetsuit and leaving dozens of bites, some as deep as 2 inches. I wish I could draw something practical from this incident, like how to avoid otter attacks. But the truth is, if you can swim well enough to evade an attacking otter, you don’t need advice.

Prudhomme was given tetanus and rabies shots, and has had to continue with the rabies shots. Her wetsuit is ruined.

Prudhomme plans to race the Duluth Triathlon on August 18. It’s a half iron, with a swim in the same lake. It will be interesting to see whether the otter has the guts to face 750 (the registration limit set by the organizers) triathletes.

Thanks to Rick Christ for finding and pointing out the story.

Today’s weight: 155.4
Waking pulse: 55