Tuesday, June 8, 2010

First 1/2 Mile Open Water Swim!

Breaking news!  Triathlete in Training Nick Wisdom completed his first 1/2 mile open water swim today!  Lifeguards everywhere are breathing a sigh of relief and standing down from their state of high alert.

This morning I met up with a few club members of the Tri-NE club at Lincoln woods to get in an open water swim.  Which I was really really looking forward to for a few reasons. 

One...   after making a concerted effort at doing whole stroke work instead of drills for a week or two now I felt like I was ready to make a go of a longer open water distance.

Two...   after a week dealing with that ten yard long stupid hotel pool I was dying to have an open stretch of water to swim in!

Three....   I really wanted to practice with the wetsuit on again.  I love how confident that thing makes me feel. And I love that I know that no matter what I can stay afloat in that thing forever...  even if I'm exhausted.

Four...   I did a lot of work this week on trying to relax into my stroke in the water and I wanted to try it out without pool walls involved!

Five...   sighting...   must work on sighting!

So...   I got to Lincoln woods at 7am.  Its really beautifull and peacefull there.  Its really a shame that the water quality is about to go downhill there soon and it will be unuseable as a swim spot.  Especially as its really close to me.  Anyway....    I met up with Luis and chatted for a bit as I got ready and the other three club members were already in the water.  I'd read the posts on the Tri-NE discussion board about the various distances to certain points.  So I stood on the beach and I looked out at the rock thats about a 1/4 mile from the shore.  It looked far away, but it looked reachable.  So I said screw it!  I'm going for it.  At the very least its a rock, and its very likely I can get out of the water there and sit on it and rest if need be.

So I headed out.  In all there were five of us in the water.  Two strong swimmers, and three of us being much newer to swimming.  After swimming for a bit I turned around and realized that I was the only one of the three newer swimmers who had decided to go for the rock, the others had chosen routes closer to shore.  Hmmm....   maybe this wasn't such a good idea!  I felt good though so I just kept swimming and kept trying to relax.  At times my heart rate would elevate and I'd feel short of breath and so I'd pause and stick my head up or roll over on my back and relax a little and then keep going.  When I got about 3/4 of the way out there I started to tire a little bit.  That last little bit of distance was tough.  I was tired, and it seemed like every single time I looked up the rock was no closer.  I resorted to backstroke quite a bit at this point.  The two stronger swimmers had already reached the rock and long since passed me on their way back to shore. 

I eventually made it to the rock and found a way to get up on it and sit down for a bit of a rest!  Woohooo!  I made it!  I swam a quarter mile!  So thats what that feels like!  Well crap!  Only way back now is to swim another quarter mile back to shore!  So I gathered myself and got back in the water.  All in all I may have spent two minutes on the rock resting.  The way back was definitely more labored but there were some nice moments of relaxed swimming in there.  And in those moments I sort of smile underwater as I know that with more and more practice those moments of relaxation are going to get longer and longer until my whole swim is that way.  But for now I just do my best and keep going.  I stopped a few times for backstroke on the way back in.  I was really getting tired.  At one point I laughed out loud as I did backstroke for a bit and then realized I was going sideways instead of towards the beach... so I went back to freestyle.

I had two very brief moments of panic in the water.  One when I saw a big shiny fish thing swim under me.  Freaky! but that wasn't bad, and another one when I saw movement out of the corner of my eye right on the surface of the water.  I popped my head up immediately and started laughing when I realized it was just a flock of geese flying low over the water. 

On the way out the rock was the thing that never seemed to get any closer.  On the way back in it was the swimming ropes around the beach area that seemed to be perpetually far away.  But eventually I made it!  I swam all the way in till my fingertips touched sand and then stood up.  I did it!  My first half mile swim!  I was so psyched!  I know it was uber slow, had lots of rest breaks and backstroke breaks... but thats ok.  Point is I did it.  And my legs didn't feel thrashed either which was great too.  So I caught my breath a little bit in the water and then headed back out into the water until I could barely stand any more.  At that point I beared down and swam freestyle as fast as I could into the shore, stood up as soon as my hand touched bottom and ran to the lifeguard tower while stripping off my wetsuit.  That was a weird feeling but its good to have practiced that part of transition.  I think I'll add that to the end of all my OWS practice.

And speaking of OWS practice...  next up...    an OWS with more club members at a different pond tomorrow morning and then probably back to Lincoln Woods on thursday AM.  Its open water week!  No more pool time for me!  At least not till I head out to SJI on Friday.

And next up today...   resting....   some tv watching, a bit of work (although technically I am on vacation now) and then the PB TT / Brick Run tonight.  Can't wait!

Heres a pic of the beach at Lincoln Woods.  The rock I swam out to is at about the center of the photo right at the end of the first treeline and just to the right of the top of the lifeguard tower.

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