June 18, 2009

Chesapeake Bay 1 mile swim challenge

This past weekend I had a fun race planned - open water swim in the Chesapeake Bay. The key objective in this race was to test the waters literally. I have never done open water swim in the ocean and the 1 mile swim race presented a unique opportunity to test out how the swim will feel in my A-race.

I have decided to head down to Stevensville, MD on race day morning as the race was planned to start at 10am which gave me more than enough time to get down to MD. I would probably not do something like this again - the 3 hours drive to MD was OK, but the 3 hours drive back after the race was something I can do without.

But back to the race - after checking in and setting-up on the beach I observed Lin-Mark team setting-up the course for the swim. It was very simple triangle course - swim by five buoys on the way out, sharp turn right swim by two buoys, hard turn back to the shore with one buoy and then the finish line. You can probably make up the course from the picture below if you go to Flickr and look at the full size picture. To the right is route 50 bridge that my coach Erica swam by during her 4.4 mile swim - and she placed well in her race (11th women overall and 1st in her AG way to go Erica.).


The water did not look all that bad from the shore (what a mistake it was to think that). After a short wait I hooked up with Leah and Lori (fellow EnMu athletes) we attended a short pre-race meeting, suited up and lined-up for the swim. Leah was in 3rd wave and me with Lori were in the last 'pink' wave.


Before the start I lined up to second row expecting to have solid swim and not wanting to swim through large packs during the start of the swim. Few seconds after lining up we were off. The way out was relatively easy - I was by the first buoys and felt pretty good. I did not overdo the start and felt I can pick it up a little. So I did. At the same time waves started to get little bigger and I was having troubles getting my breaths in between being slammed. I panicked a little and that raised my HR. After few minutes of struggle I decided to relax and take few breast strokes to clean my googles that in the meantime fogged (we were not allowed to do practice swim and I put googles under my cap so there was no way to dip them before the start). After that I decided to just take it with cold head and relax. From that point on I just swam with relaxed body while still pushing the pace a bit. I lost some time with the goggles cleaning and calming down, but I was now passing a lot of people that just started out too fast. After the fifth buoys I made a turn only to be kicked into a shoulder by fellow swimmer who obviously struggled by that point. My thought while hearing muffled "Sorry man" was - at least it was not my face. And I kept going. I had few more minor collisions with few people, but no more kicks or slams. After the turn back to shore I had troubles sighting buoys - they used one that is blue, yellow and orange which was just not possible to see. But after few meters I could see it in the distance and I corrected my direction to pass it without risking DQ. On the way back to the shore the waves got much better and I was able to pick the pace up even more. I swam all the way to the point where I touched the bottom and then ran up to the timing mat - it is a race after all. And then it was over - I was like "Hell where is my bike to hop onto." But yeah that was it.

I grabbed bottle of water and waited for Lori and Leah to come out of the water. They were out in few minutes and we grabbed some food, got out t-shirt from organizers, took shower with bunch of other people and headed back to our stuff.

I did post time that is not all that glamorous - 33:18 for the mile swim, but it was a good result given the conditions. The winner had time little over 23 minutes which is very comparable to my swim result from Black Bear where the water was little choppy, but not as bad as during this race. I'm happy with the result and feel ready to tackle the ocean swim in my A-race.

I stuck around for a bit after the race, but then excused myself and headed back home as Dasa was leaving town and I had to resume my primary duty to take care of Ian. Before I left Chesapeake Bay I made a stop on the way from the beach in local crab shack and had a plate of fried shrimp which was just amazing. Then it was time to drive back home.

Next up is sprint triathlon in DC this coming weekend. After that I'll stay around to spectate the ITU race - I plan to stick around for the men race, not sure if I'll wait for the ladies. I'm looking forward to both the AG race and the Pro event as well even with rain forecast for most of Sunday it will be fun.

1 comment:

Stuart said...

Great job, the Atlantic is just cold and grey. brrrr