Monday, June 08, 2009

Open Water Swimming

Life has been pretty hectic, but with my wife’s support I have been able to keep up with my training plan towards the 5430 Sprint Triathlon in Boulder.

On Thursday May 28th I took the opportunity to pick up my 2XU Team wetsuit from Colorado Multisport. Getting fitted for a wetsuit was an interesting experience and I was thrilled to have the support of the competent staff at Colorado Multisport. Friday May 29th was my first open water swim in 20 years and my first ever in a wetsuit. I headed down to Grant Ranch in Littleton for my maiden voyage. The venue was excellent with a calm lake and 4 buoys set up to establish 500m, 750m and mile swim routes. The water was probably in the mid 60’s, but it sure felt cold. There were about a dozen swimmers out at 5:30 in the morning to get in a morning swim.

Jumping in the water really took my breath away. I assumed I would warm up and let most folks go on their way before I ventured out behind the one other person doing the out and back 500m. Unfortunately about 50-75 meters out I started to panic and “just knew” that I would drown in that lake. This happened twice and both times I bee lined towards the shore and caught my breath. My fellow swimmer returned from her first lap and was curious as to why I had not started. After relaying my panic attacks she said a few encouraging words and I did make it the 250m and held on to the buoy to rest before heading back. My sighting was pretty bad and I had a tendency to swim left. Exiting the water I was dizzy and a little nauseous. I was unable to shake this for another couple of hours and was feeling pretty uneasy about my re-entry into the world of triathlon.

Fortunately I had already paid my race fee for the Boulder Stroke & Stride, otherwise I might not have gone out. June 4th was my first event of the year and was supposed to be a tune up for the triathlon. I arrived pretty early and milled about as people showed up for the race. This time I had the added benefit of a warm wear cap and warmed up for about 20 minutes bobbing in the water and swimming 25-50 meters in the 64 degree water. I was a little nervous about the mass start with 98 competitors, but this was actually reassuring. Racing Underground does a great job with events and the race director was supportive and had first timers raise their hands. I was not alone.

The horn went off and I started out kind of near the front on the inside of the counter clockwise course. I was surprisingly relaxed and got into a rhythm pretty early. I was still drifting left, but was sighting much better and could key off of the swimmers around me. Fortunately I did not get kicked or punched and managed to stay on the course pretty well. I was even tight around the buoys. I finished the 750m in 19:23 and was not dizzy or nauseous, just a little fatigued. Exiting the water was not as tough as I thought, but transitioning for the run was tough. It took me 3:31 to get up the shore, out of my wetsuit, into my tri-top and onto the run course. However, my only goal was to finish and a 31:10 5K sealed that deal.

All in all, my confidence is high and I am looking forward to the sprint on June 21st.

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