I ventured out into a new sport and challenged myself to my first ever open water swim race this Sunday at the first race in the Aktiv Swim Series. It was a wonderful new experience, but I have lots to learn. It was the day after my half marathon; perfect training for a half-ironman – my goal for September in Muskoka.
To make the whole event even better, my son Caleb also swam his first race at the same time. Caleb swam the 750m distance while I swam the half-ironman swim distance (1.9km). He won his race; I came 10th (or 3rd last) in mine. I was very proud of Caleb and rather humbled in my performance.
The race took place in the Welland Canal at the Welland Recreational Canal Flatwater Community Center. For the novices, like Caleb and myself, there was a swim clinic to start. We started by squeezing our bodies into the skin-tight wetsuits. Then we jumped in and adjusted to the shock of 62 degree water. I found it was not too bad in the wetsuit, once I was moving around. Then we practiced “sighting” while swimming (keeping an eye on your destination and trying to swim straight rather than in a crooked, inefficient path). Finally, we practiced swimming in close proximity with other swimmers.
The race itself was a mass start, and though there were only approx. 30 swimmers, all the splashing, thrashing and kicking around was new to me. I held back as I was jostled about, rather than pushing myself forward, and was surprised to suddenly find myself at the back of the group. I should not have been that far back, but that is naturally what happens if one does not start off hard in a race!
I started the swim at a steady pace and I think I picked it up a bit as the race went on. Steady, but not too fast. I guess I have much to learn about how to execute a solid swim race performance. Maybe I should take lessons from my son, who did so incredibly well, finishing the 750m swim in 12:08 and coming in first. I finished the 1.9k in 35:48.
This was a great practice race for me, as I will be doing my first triathlon next weekend in the Welland Rose City Triathlon. I learned a ton, which I fully intend to put into practice at the triathlon. Most importantly, I’ll start off harder from the outset. I will also plan to swim at a higher intensity throughout the race itself, especially because it will be a shorter distance.
I’m thankful for the experience and to Barb and Wolf at Trysport for organizing this event. I am definitely excited for the triathlon next Saturday….