As part of my prep for the USM tri, I did the Danger 1000 in Torquay yesterday. It was my first open-water swim... ever. I have been really happy with my progress with my swimming; doing 1500mts in the pool without too much drama. However, the 1500mts I need to swim for the triathlon is in Corio Bay (Geelong) so swimming in open-water in race conditions was required.
My brother Tim told me about the Danger 1000 and it sounded perfect for my first open-water swim; 1000 meters, reasonably sheltered conditions, and a good sized field of racers without being too big an event.
Thursday night I swam 1700mts in the pool and Friday I rode 60kms. It was only when the starting gun fired on Saturday I ran into the surf that I thought 'maybe I should have had an easier couple of days'. I'd tried a run straight off the bike the night before and cramped in my quads and as I ran into the water they burnt again. The heart rate went up and I was puffing before I even started swimming.
I waded out until it got too deep and then started swimmming. I was completely unprepared for how choppy it was and how difficult that would make swimming. I did some breast stroke for a bit to catch my breath and then did some ugly looking freestyle out to the turning buoy.
It was only now that I was able to start swimming with any sort of rhythym - one, two, breath, one, two, breath, etc. It was hard, but it was nice to get that rhythym going. I took the second and final left turn to toward the beach and by now was tiring. I was struggling to keep a straight line and found my self zig zagging as I corrected and over corrected. It felt like that last straight was long, really long. The beach didn't seem to be getting closer. About half way to the beach I was run into from behind by a swimmer from the group that started after me and I was convinced I was in last place of my group of 'green caps'. Thinking I was ready to stand 75 meters off the beach I was disappointed to find I couldn't! Had to swim some more. Another 25 meters and I was able to stand. Still convinced I was in last place I gently jogged to the finish line on the sand pleased to have finished but thinking the spectators would think mine was a pretty poor effort. I don't think this now, but at the time it crossed my mind.
I crossed the line as the clock ticked 42:24, and according to TJ (my brother, Tim) we started at the 20 minute mark. I'm not convinced I did the swim in 22:24 so I look forward to seeing the official results from my timing tag.
Look! There's green caps behind me! I'm not last!
I'm really pleased to have had the experience. It was good to find that my concerns about thinking about sharks and freaking out about seaweed didn't eventuate. Once I was in the water I was too preoccupied with swimming, breathing and not drowning to worry about that! So I tick a box in preparation for the tri and I move on.