|From the cover of this month's Swimmer magazine from USMS|
Looking at my training calendar, though, I realized that this weekend would be very important for my Vineman Half Ironman training schedule, and I really couldn't afford to take time off from training so close to my event. I started wondering if I could run or cycle while we were there, and then thought, "Duh, I should swim!" So, I signed up for the 1 mile swim event! So, I am now a card-carrying member of the US Master Swimming organization!
|Course map at the lake's edge|
I had NO idea what to expect. This swim was a "Cable Swim" and I really didn't even know what that meant. For this swim, they float a quarter-mile long cable across the lake with small buoys every 5 yards. The cable itself is anchored on both ends and marked with large cylindrical buoys. There are floating course marker buoys every 110 yards alongside the course to help you keep track of your distance.
There is a rope strung between two posts in the water that marks the starting line and a touch board between two posts in the water that is the finish line. You start in the water after swimming out from the shore, so no mass shore start.
|The course starts on the right at the Starting Rope and goes toward the left along the Floating Cable (Click to enlarge)|
The National Championship event is 2 miles, which is four complete laps of the course, and wetsuits are NOT allowed. The 1 mile event, two complete laps, was not a championship event and swimmers could compete as Category I (non-wetsuit) or Category II (wet-suit). Alan signed up for both events as non-wetsuit, and I signed up for the 1 Mile Category II event.
|I'm not 117 years old!|
It was great to watch the 2 mile Championship swim before my event. These are some incredible athletes! There is something fantastic about being a spectator, and I think it's important for competitors to spend some time spectating events.
Swimmers lined up in their waves according to seed position. There were 12 swimmers per wave. A coin toss determined the direction of the swim, which was clockwise. The fastest person in the wave was given the "pole position" at the cable side and the wave lined up away from them.
The waves then entered the water and swam out to the start rope, lining back up in line by seed number.
Wave 1 lined up, awaiting countdown and airhorn to start.
And They're Off!
Battling it out for position. A brutal mass of pounding arms and kicking feet, as brutal as a mass start of a triathlon.
Alan making it back to shore after a great swim. He swam 2 miles in 45:39.02 and came in 12th overall, 9th male, and 2nd in his age group--that's IN THE NATION!
The unfortunate thing for the event was that the water temp had cooled to 66 degrees the last several days and the ambient weather was really cool that morning. About seven swimmers were treated for hypothermia after the event, and several were transported to the hospital for treatment. I was concerned that they might cancel the 1 mile event, and actually expected it, but the sun came out and warmed everyone up. I'd donned my wetsuit early to keep warm and was starting to feel too warm by the time my race started.
There were two people seeded after me for the 1 mile swim...both in their late 60s! We had a lot of fun in our line up! We were there to complete!
Alan and I talked about race strategy before my event and my plan was to stay one-person-width off of the cable so faster swimmers could stay on the cable and not swim over top of me if they needed to pass. Everyone was talking about how brutal the swim had been, that they'd been hit and kicked and swam over, and while I am used to that in triathlon swimming, it is better to avoid as much of that if you can! So I hit the cable and then moved over to leave a gap. However, I soon came upon the previous wave's swimmers and had to pass on the left against the cable! Everyone was wearing caps with their seed numbers on them so I could see I was swimming in amongst the mid 90s! I moved through much of this wave.
The swim itself was pretty uneventful. After the second turn I settled in with a swimmer from two waves ahead of me and drafted off to the side of her. At one point there were three of us swimming side-by-side and the outside swimmer pushed me into the inside swimmer several times, causing me to strike the inside swimmer pretty hard accidentally with my stroke...she yelled and I apologized and tried to stay away from her as much as possible after that! Yikes!
The last 110 yards I swam hard, working to pass the swimmer two waves up that I'd swam with for most of the race. I knew I was already 40 seconds ahead of her since they started waves 20 seconds apart, but it was great motivation to finish hard. I even remembered to hit the touch board at the finish to stop my timer (something I've never had to do in a swim before--your time doesn't stop until you hit the touch board, even if you swim past it!!). They handed me a popscicle stick with the number 56 on it, indicating that I was the 56th swimmer to finish..56?!? Wow, I've had a great swim!
And a great swim, indeed! I finished with 34:39.62, 54th overall, 6th female, and 2nd in my age group in the Wetsuit Category!
I feel so ready for Vineman 70.3!
What's even better, I totally could've done two more laps...that's nearly the swim for a full Ironman!
Triathletes are Swimmers Too
My first issue of Swimmer, the magazine for US Master Swimming members, arrived two days before the cable swim, and I was intrigued to see Triathletes are Swimmers Too on the cover. One of the main articles of this issue was about how swimmers and triathletes see swimming differently, how they train differently, and some of the controversies that have arisen in some masters swimming teams. It made me a little nervous about showing up for this swim, quite frankly, but gave me some valuable insight about etiquette for a non-triathlon, swimming event. Alan was helpful in calming my nerves about this as well. The important thing was recognizing, which I already do, that my swimming is to completion, generally the first part of an overall competition, whereas most of the people I was swimming with this day are primarily swimmers and have been swimming most of their lives and are there to compete. I have, Adult-Onset Athleticism, a phrase I learned from my running friend, Cindi...this is all new for me, I go to complete, and it's important to not get in the way of those who are there to compete. I'm a guest! I will say, though, that my reception and introduction to US Masters Swimming was so much better than the magazine article gave me an impression that it would be. I felt welcome, I felt invited, no one made me feel unwanted. So, thank you, USMS!
I did love two things from the article, the table showing the differences between swimmers and triathletes:
and this video, Swimmer Guy and Tri Girl
So it's 12 days and counting to Vineman 70.3. Still have lots of exciting things happening, including hosting a professional triathlete from Australia in my home while she's in Portland to compete in the Rev3 Triathlon this weekend! Look for a post next week all about it and my Q&A with her.
Until next time,
Train Safe and
Remember the Joy!