Early one Saturday morning, I woke up and prepared for one of the most iconic activities available to a UCR student: a swim to the C. Every UCR student knows this swim is as mandatory as passing your finals in order to be a true Highlander. The people who say that the sea monsters that try to gouge out your eyeballs are too scary simply have no sense of adventure.
Do the mermaids shout horrible, demoralizing things at you on the way there? Yes. Do many students drown attempting to make this journey? Of course! Do sharks with a taste for human blood loom around waiting for unsuspecting students to swim too close so that they can tear into their pizza-fed flesh? Absolutely!
But is it worth it? Let me tell you about my majestic swim and you can decide.
I put on my scuba gear in the morning water murk. The new student housing is all Venetian-style splendor with canal systems and air tunnels but I live in an old apartment complex. The ground floor got flooded a long time ago, drowning most of the residents. I live on the second floor but when I go downstairs to check the mail, the rotting corpses of the residents float up and grin at me with their fish-eaten faces. The rent is very affordable!
Heading out, I take a free RTA canal ride to Goodwin’s Organic Store. This store is also flooded but students say that expensive cheeses are still floating around down there, just waiting for a savvy student to scoop one up. There is so much beauty in Riverside.
Beginning my swim, I feel energized. Why would you ever try to ban this experience? Chancellor Kim Wilcox is overreacting when he says the swim to the C is a “reckless and meaningless way to ensure death.” Only 50 students have died this quarter! Most of those students drowned. Really, if you can’t keep swimming for a mile past various sea monsters, then you’re just not going to cut it out there in the real, postapocalyptic world.
I swim past a friend from my women’s studies class and greet her enthusiastically.
“I just swam out here to die,” says Sirena Vega, a third-year environmental science major. “A mermaid threw a rock at me and now I’m bleeding. It’s only a matter of time until the sharks get me.”
I laugh in delight. See what this swim to the C does to people? It brings out their most creative side, purifies their souls and makes them stronger.
Halfway through the swim, I spot the giant C! Just then, the mermaids swarm around me, their golden hair floating and tangling together. They are very beautiful and mean. They have killed a lot of lovelorn boys by digging their claws straight into their chests to eat their hearts.
However, they seem to be in a good mood right now. They only yell insults at me — mostly about my mother, my appearance and my inability to find love. I cry. I cry a lot.
After I finish sobbing while treading water, I keep going until the C is about 50 yards away. I am so close. It is tradition to kiss the C to ensure good grades but this tradition, along with most of the student population, has died. If you were to remove your swimming mask, you might swallow a lot of water and drown. This kiss isn’t worth it! See? I am realistic about this swim. I just want to preserve the tradition.
As I am about to touch the yellow edge of the C, a long black tentacle reaches toward me from the water. The tentacle circles around my body, the suckers tearing off bits of my scuba suit. I suspect this is a mutated octopus. After the flood, a lot of radiation from nearby nuclear sites leaked into the ocean. There are so many new species swimming around down here — think of all the Instagram pictures you can post to wow your friends!
Anyway, the tentacle starts to wrap around around my face, smashing my scuba mask. I start to lose consciousness. My last clear thought is that this mutated octopus must have at least eight tentacles, which means that it could be killing seven other students right now. Solidarity! I start to suffocate.
I am not pretending that this is a walk in the park (which you cannot do anymore because the parks are infested with jellyfish). There are obstacles but you can learn from them.
So yes, I died on my swim to the C. But I still had a great time! Never have I felt more in tune with nature! And now my story is being dictated to a great psychic for a crowd at Back to the Cove. You just never know the friends you’ll meet and adventures you’ll have when you swim to the C. What are you waiting for?