It is 6:30 in the morning, and the Spring 2016 students are already up and ready for morning exercise. We had dragged ourselves out of bed and threw our exercise clothes on. Still half asleep, we listen to the morning announcements and sing the national anthem. Everyone moseys down to the water in no rush, knowing that in three minutes we will be diving into the ocean to begin the infamous Run/Swim! We split up into dorm groups, dreading the words, “Alright, everyone in the water!” Getting in the cold water is the hardest part, especially when there is still a chill in the air. We take a minute to appreciate the beautiful sunrise over the ocean and mentally prepare for the tough twenty minutes ahead. Then one by one, each dorm starts their time and are off to the races.
During the first swim, arms and legs are flailing everywhere and it is hard to pull away from the pack. The first swim feels easy after a full night of rest, but the next few continuously feel harder and harder. We climb out onto the rocky shore and begin our first run. Then, we run until we meet the next bay and then dive into the water again. We repeat this pattern three more times until we reach the wall. The wall is about eight feet tall and definitely one of the hardest parts of the Run/Swim. Students approach the wall, regain their breath, and then use every ounce of their strength to pull themselves up and over the cement ledge. Sometimes with a little help from a faculty member or peer, everyone eventually defeats the wall and is off running again. We run through a big field and down the road a little ways until we reach the rock ledge. This is hands down the most exciting part of the Run/Swim for many of the participants. Everyone encourages and cheers on those who are nervous to make the intimidating jump. As our tired legs leap of the ground and plunge into the water, we get a second burst of energy. We continue the pattern of swimming and running four more times, but this time they feel ten times harder. Turning around the corner and seeing The Island School campus is one of the best feelings in the world. We push ourselves on the final swim, knowing that in a minute we will be sitting on a bench feeling proud and accomplished. We pull ourselves onto shore and sprint to the finish line. Those who have already finished cheer everyone on as they make the final leap to touch the flagpole. You can’t help but to smile after this accomplishment. We wait for everyone to finish, then gather around the flagpole for a final cheer. When we are allowed to leave, everyone rushes to the dorms to claim a shower. It feels as though we have been up for hours, but really the long day has just begun.