“Get comfortable at being uncomfortable”
This basically sums up why I decided to do a swim only event. Since I am new to open water swimming I am taking every opportunity to swim in a dam, river, ocean or canal. Its also so beneficial to be in a race environment as much as possible.
The thought of a swim only event scared me a little, but that’s what excites me about it! I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know what the logistics would be like so I tried to arrive as early as possible to figure things out. Finding the venue was easy and the new Battery Park at the V&A Waterfront was an awesome spot for an event! After a quick and easy registration things started to make sense. I was surprised to get an awesome goodie bag! The website didn’t give much information about what was included with the entry. I thought it would only cover the cost of swimming.
After registration I walked around to get a better idea of what was happening. As the morning continued I started to feel a bit nervous, but walking around and keeping busy helped. The 1 mile wetsuit swim was before my race so we headed to the start area to watch them go. Once the race started the “washing machine” sounds didn’t help the nerves at all! But I was excited to start! I decided it was a good time to put on the wetsuit. A few minutes later they announced we would have to get onto a boat in a few minutes that would take us to the start of our race which was 800m away at the One and Only. Another surprise was that my swim event was a one way swim! This turned out to be better and meant no turning around or U turns which often lead to some people swimming into each other. I made my way to a boat and the wait for my start began…
We arrived at the One and Only and stood on the jetty; not having any idea what was going on. A race official finally arrived and said we could get into the water. Some people hesitated before getting in and I just decided #YOLO and jumped in! The water wasn’t too cold and my awesome wetsuit helped A LOT! It was my second wet swim start (where you start from floating in the water).
The race started and I seemed to find myself in a good spot with enough space to swim. My goal was just to swim at an easy comfortable pace but to swim continuously for the entire race. I took one or two breaks where I did a few breast strokes so I didn’t technically stop swimming. Mostly, I did this to make sure I wasn’t swimming into the walls of the canal or into any of the bridge’s support beams. This happened to two swimmers in the 1 mile race that took place before mine. The water got really cold under the bridge but I kept swimming and knew I was close to the finish. I had walked about half the route before the race so I had a rough idea where I was. I could see the finish area and just focused on getting there as quickly as possible and not letting anyone pass me. I finished the swim in about 14 minutes which I think is a 800m swim personal best for me. I expected the swim to take much longer I thought maybe 20 minutes or more so to come in way ahead of that was a good surprise! I was happy to be out of the water and to see that my family had come to support after their long run. It’s always awesome seeing them cheering me on while I finish my events!
Out of the wetsuit; a coffee and a smoothie later and I was ready for the rest of the day!
Since my goal is to swim consistently throughout the year and not take long breaks after races I will be back next year to race the mile! The event was really well organised and worth it! Thanks to everyone involved and fo all the support especially to Zone 3 SA for sponsoring me the amazing Vision wetsuit for the last year. Its been such a pleasure to swim in!