I did my very first open water swim of the season on Sunday this past weekend at the Zoot Open Water Swim race. It was a great event put on by Runner's Life, and it sounded like they had the most participants this year than ever before-approximately 120 swimmers. One had the option of doing the 1km, 2km, or 4km race: I chose to do the 2km race. I was very tempted to do the 1km loop, because for me, the shorter the better! I decided to do the 2km because it would overshoot the distance that I'll be swimming for the rest of my races this year (1.5km for Olympic distance), and I really needed the practice just spending time in the water with a wetsuit on, sighting, etc.
I'm sooooooo glad that I signed up last minute for this open water swim, because it served as a harsh reminder just how different swimming open water versus swimming in a pool really is! There were no flip-turns to come to my rescue, there was no black line to stare at so that I knew where I was going, and worst of all there was no stopping over that distance:) For most of you who don't know, I do come from a background of competitive swimming, but I was a sprinter through and through! Broken 100s and 50s were more my thing, so I'm still in the process of building that endurance up for triathlon swimming! Anyway, another issue that I had to contend with was borrowing a wetsuit from some other teammates. I just sold my wetsuit (that was a bit too big on me now), so I couldn't be picky. I used whatever I could get my hands on, and was happy that I had one to use. Unfortunately, as soon I started swimming, I started developing a bubble butt and inflatable legs, because the suit started filling up with water. Mentally, I tried not to let it bother me, but my arms felt so heavy so quickly. I felt like I had a good start and managed to brave the clawing and mosh pit for the first 200m. I was able to find the feet of some strong swimmers too, but at about 350m, I made a poor tactical error. I decided I was going to give up the feet for swimming a more direct line to the next buoy. HUGE mistake. In the process of choosing a more direct line to the buoy, I got trampled by two men, and then lost the draft altogether! I tried to swim with them, but there wasn't much shelter from the current and waves. The rest of the first km felt longer and harder than it usually does for me in the pool, but I guess it was to be expected. I came through 1km in about 14:45 (The timer yells out the time to you while you yell out your race number to them), so I was just hoping to swim the next loop at least maintaing that split or picking it up a bit. Nope, it didn't quite happen as planned. I think the current may have picked up on the second loop, and my arms were feeling like lead, mostly because I'm not used to wearing a wetsuit, and because it was filling with water. I did my best to put my head down and go, but my breathing pattern was a bit messed up, and my siting wasn't great, so I ended up going slower on the second loop. My final time was approximately 30:30, which was good enough for 2nd woman overall in the 2km swim and 3rd overall for men and women combined. That's not a stellar time for me, but I learned a lot from the mistakes that I made and will try to execute the swim a lot better at Mooseman this coming Saturday. Plus, I tried out a Blue Seventy Helix wetsuit after the race on Sunday that was the proper size for me, and wow, what a difference! I felt unrestricted, light on the water, and more like the way I feel in the pool. I'm in the process of getting myself one of those suits, but in the mean time, I may have the chance to borrow a sleeveless version for next weekend. I will let you know how that works out!
Until next time,