So here it is, my first ever swimming race, a swimming race that didn’t have a bike or run after it! How strange!
I had no idea what to expect in this race. I haven’t worn the wet suit since October 2012, the World champs Grand Final in Auckland, and my last ever triathlon.
To be honest, I was relieved that it actually still fitted me! I didn’t know what to expect from an open water swimming race, here in Southland. It is the Southland open water swimming champs too, did that mean more would appear? Who knows. I was trying to imagine, would it be like a swim start for a sprint tri qualifier in the tiny lake at Emberton, (Olney, England)? When we set off I knew by looking at the map that the lake was very small. I was told via email that it was a 2km swim, 4x500m laps. Yep, smaller than Emberton.
I set off with wet suit, towel and shower stuff (in hope) but in reality I expected a field, and the back of a car, at best. We drove past the ‘sign’ we were told to look out for, till on the way back, mark figured out the kiwi translation.
This was the ‘sign’. We only knew that because its the same ‘sign’ used in a garage sale! Down the tack we went and yep,. I was right a field, and a car, and a woman on a fold out chair. That was it. There was one other car there. I went to talk to the lady, and ‘register’. She asked me what distance I was doing. I looked at her in confusion. She said ‘the other lady is doing 2km, I think you should too’. Her sheet only had one other name written on it. Well, it was a very cold day but I thought what the heck, I had expected it to be 2km, so why make it any shorter!!? OH joked with me about making sure I didn’t forget that I DIDN’T have to sprint up the beach while stripping off and looking for my bike!
We sat in the car for a bit, speculating whether I would perish on this very cold day, or not, when just a few more cars arrived. in all there was a handful of people, and only four adults, including one man. Oh well, I would be first second or third then wouldn’t I?!
After a swim ‘warm up’ the start happened suddenly and without warning. I wasn’t at all ready or in the start position. Never mind, That very quickly didn’t matter, because they all swam off into the distance. The other lady I had spoken to, who claimed she was really SLOW, (as she put on her Challenge Wanaka swim cap) also swam off into the distance.
I focussed on myself, stopped letting the surroundings get to be and just swam. So what if I was last, I was doing it, wasn’t I?! It was another two laps before the leader came past, and lapped me. (The one adult male as it turns out, who is a fish!) As he went past I realised anther thing that I needed to change, if I was to continue doing swim races: the leg kick. I am so used to not really using the legs, because I will need them later. Well, I don’t need them later, do I, so I had better re-learn how to use them properly!
I finished, slightly faster than my 2000m test swim the other day in the pool, and was third (and last). I seriously underestimated how much faster pure swimmers would be, and also how few people there would be. I had no one to hide amongst!
I apologised for keeping them so long, and said that I realised that I had work to do, when the speed boat on the course brought the first buoy back to the shore before I had even finished the race!
Glad I did it, it reminded me how much I loved open water swimming, its something I will have to plan a return to next spring.
On the way home we stopped for a much needed snack, and a can of coke, to settle the stomach.
Its been a while since I did open water swimming but I knew that this would ALWAYS do the trick and make me feel better again.
Perhaps with some TRAINING I could manage a second or a first next year….