What a difference a year makes. Last year the lake was as smooth as glass and I was terrified. At this point I had never had a “good” swim in any race – ever. The 1.2 mile point-to-point swim looked like miles and miles. I had a rough swim last year – read about it here if you like.
If it had been these conditions last year I am not sure if I would have even started the race. At the race briefing the day before the officials repeatedly said that you could skip the swim if you were uncomfortable – you would just not be eligible for an age group awards, etc. I understand but then that really is not a triathlon is it?
Anyway, I had an hour and twelve minutes to watch wave and wave start. At the start of the race the water was a little rough but it progressively got worse. I was watching the flags and they were getting whipped around. The conditions changed in that hour. I saw a few people call for help before my wave was even lining up. Their race was over.
To make matters worse there were four 90 degree turns on this course. And I am sure you know how everyone bunches up at a turn buoy. And in these conditions it was even more congested. I liken it to riding on the bike – you know how everyone is spread out pretty good and then you hit that big hill and the better riders pull away. This leaves everyone else struggling up the hill and bunching up. This is what was happening at each buoy – times 4.
From ernestov on garmin Connect (not my swim - I was probably all over the place)
I like to breathe on my right side and this was into the swells. It took me about a quarter of the race to get the timing down so that I could take a breath without a mouth full of water. While I appreciate all of the safety boats and such the smell of diesel was in the air. This was not very pleasant.
It was very difficult for me to sight in these conditions. I was way out to far into the lake and had to angle back hard for the second buoy. Even in the best of conditions I am not very proficient at sighting. I stick my head up and lose momentum. In these conditions I had to come to a complete stop and really look hard to see the line.
Drafting during the swim – yeah right - this was just not possible for me. I did bump into a number of people but being able to benefit from better swimmers was not going to happen.
After making the turnaround I once again veered of course and was closer to the shore than I should be. There were a lot of people off course with me. The swells were pushing us towards the shore and I drifted to my right. I had to make another hard correction to get around that last buoy.
As I neared the swim exit I saw people walking and I stood up. I could barely touch and had to do that tip-toe walk thing. I should have just swum a few more yards before I stood up. Once I got my footing I was able to run out of the water and into transition.
I was really not prepared for the swim this year. I have not done any open water swimming since last August (IMKY) and I have used just about any excuse to skip the swim workout. Don’t get me wrong. I am not making excuses – I take full responsibility for the lack of training. I could have done better.
All things considered I would not say this was a bad swim. In fact, not long ago this swim would have been a disaster. I can now look back and use this race as a confidence booster. With that I am pleased.