Yesterday morning I swam my first open water race and TI delivered in a big way by helping me conserve energy and feel confident. My goal wasnít to race as much as it was to finish comfortably. I wanted to love my first open water race and to finish confidently so that I continue to participate in open water swimming. Water temperature was a comfortable 77F and I didnít use (nor do I own) a wetsuit. I placed 4th in my age group that had 9 swimmers and finished the 1.2 mile ďraceĒ in 46:29. In a 25-yard pool I typically swim a mile (i.e.1750 yards) in about 35 minutes.
Things that I learned:
- I love open water swimming!
- To train for the race, I briefly swam in a lake to acclimate to the murky, and potentially choppy, conditions. The first 5 minutes I felt a little claustrophobic because I couldnít see past my elbow while swimming, but that disappeared as I adapted to the conditions.
- During the race, I started near the back of the mass start (~125 swimmers between the 1.2 mile, 2.4 mile and 5K swims) so that I could take my time and not have to fight people, but it still seemed like being in a large bathtub with lots of people you didnít know (and not in a good way!). My hands would touch the swimmerís feet in front of me and I could feel swimmers behind me doing the same to my feet. But, after rounding the first buoy, the pack started to space out so there was more room to find a rhythm.
- I suck at sighting and plan to practice this acquired skill. Between getting caught behind slower swimmers, slowing down to a crawl while sighting and occasionally drifting from an optimal course line, itís no wonder my 1.2 mile time doesnít reflect what might be predicted from my pool times.
- Focusing on technique kept me from wondering how far I had gone or how far there was still to go.
- Breathing on both sides helped a great deal and was useful to monitor nearby swimmers and occasionally look at the shore to confirm that I was actually moving!
- Buoys were held down by ropes (duh!) and itís not easy to swim over the ropes. I inadvertently tried this and I won't ever do that again!
All-in-all it was a very pleasurable 1st time experience and very educational. Iím tempted to slowly increase my mileage so that I can participate in the 2.4 miler next year.
My next step is to do the swim leg (1500m) of a local triathlon in early September. My neighbor is a runner that has always wanted to participate in a triathlon and he has a friend who bikes. Neither likes to swim, so Iím thinking about being the water guy.
Thanks TI for making all this possible!