Open water swimming is something fairly new that I’ve been having a crack at this summer. This week I completed my second 1000m event for the season at the Geelong Multisport Festival at Eastern Beach. A couple of weeks ago a friend and I did the Danger 1000 ocean swim at Torquay front beach. Both events were fun, rewarding and fairly challenging yet achievable. Maybe we’ll make a habit of doing these swims.
I’ve never really been competitive. When I say this I mean in the typical Aussie sports-team sense of the word – I’ve just never really been interested in playing hard to win at all costs. I just can’t be bothered caring that much.
Sure, I love a challenge and strive to be the best at things, and it’s fun to beat your mates when you can, but I’ve always been more of a “participation and fun” kind of girl. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good active adventure, physical challenge or strenuous activity. I ski, I swim, I hike, I walk, I run, I lift weights, I do aerobics and yoga and pilates… but I do them at my pace, when I want to.
I like activities rather than sports.
This is what I like about the whole “fun run” scene – which I will extend to open water swims and triathlons (yeah, just watch me chuck them all in a box together!)
The Geelong Multisport Festival, which my work sponsors and I have been writing numerous stories about over the last few months, is a combination of a huge range of events including the swim I did, a few runs and a range of triathlons – serious and fun (or both if you like to think that way). Last year a group of us formed a team and competed in the Target Enticer Corporate Triathlon supporting Give Where You Live which is a short event designed for amateur corporate and friends groups who just want to give the sport a go. It opened my eyes to the huge “world” that is triathlon events.
For the first time I heard a place referred to as “transition” and learnt about food substances called “gels”. I saw flashy bikes that stayed upright when you pushed them from the seat and I saw tight-fitting lycra suits designed specifically for all three sports of swimming, cycling and running. I saw how competitive people can get. I saw how a lot of these competitive people are middle-aged businessmen who have taken on a fitness challenge and have gotten kind of obsessed. I saw a lot of people with bad swimming technique. And I thought, “Hmm, I was a swim teacher. I could beat most of these suckers.” And I kind of got a little competitive.
This year I really did the events for myself – to challenge myself, see how I went, have something to train towards, and have a bit of fun. I’d done the Danger 1000 another time many years ago, and also did a bit of nippers and surf lifesaving long ago – so I knew what to expect. We swam out against the chop, across with the current, then back in kind of half with the current. Swimming in the ocean is certainly more challenging than a pool – but I felt I did pretty well and I finished with a time of 22:44 minutes which made me pretty happy because I’d really hardly trained. And I beat Ashlee. Woop!
When I do a swim session in the pool I have a bit of a system now – I warm up for 300 to 600m depending on how I’m feeling, I swim a kilometre non-stop (with half an eye on my watch) then I do a few other strokes, a few sprints if I’m feeling energetic, and cool down. I did this maybe three times before the first swim. I did it another two times before the second swim. I liked how it didn’t take much to get my swim fitness back and feel pretty comfortable in the open water events.
The second swim – this weekend past, was my first time swimming a long distance in a bay. It was so smooth! It was so easy and cruisy and so nice to not worry about waves splashing in my face and currents pulling me away from the course. I went hard and gave it a good shot – but I was only ever competing against myself. When I finished I was a little puffed, but felt good. The slightly stinky, stagnant bay might have given me a bit of a cold but I’ve fought it off so far.
I knew my time in the second swim would surely be better than the first – the event had seemed smoother and I probably went slightly harder – but all I wanted was to beat my Torquay event time. I was hoping to finish in 20 minutes. After the event I went online to check out my time and found out that I had come in with a time of 18:10 minutes – even better than I expected!
I might not be truly competitive, but it was nice to beat myself and see improvement.
To put things in perspective, in the Geelong 1000m Bay Swim I came 135th out of 194 total competitors. The fastest time was 9:45 and the slowest was 31:36. I was 49th out of 73 females, of which the fastest finished in 11:23 minutes (and the slowest was 31:36). Some of the swimmers there looked pretty damn serious, so I reckon I did alright.