[John has been diligently putting in some serious open water swimming practice in preparation for race season. Unlike some members of TUSA, where open water swimming is simply something you have to do during the race and that's it, John is lucky enough to be in close proximity to a great series of open water races, that he is taking full advantage of.]
The open water swim training for triathlon is one of the hardest parts to prepare for because open water races just don’t happen often. So, I am very lucky that I have an open water swim race series that happens every year nearby.
This event is early enough in the season that it really prepares you for triathlon races without having to do the bike and run immediately afterwards. This gives you time to really get the feel for what swimming in murky cold water feels like, plus getting use to fighting for position in the water is something you can’t really get ready for in a pool.
Every year there is an open water swim race that takes place out at the nearby Hagg Lake. There are two events to choose from: the 750m or the 1500m, I always choose the later because sprinting 750 sounds terrible. Plus, the 1500 is closer to my actual race distance, and gives me a better chance at some long-distance swimming. This lake is the Triathletes perfect stomping ground because it is an amazing lake to be able to swim in but also there is a hilly 11mile bike loop around the lake that give you a bit of everything. From hard climbs, fast descents, to sharp corners. There is also an 11-mile trail around the lake that you will find many ultra-runners training on. It is an amazing place to get out and train. Plus,there are not many cars out there so it makes for a nice bike loop… but let’s talk about the race.
Usually weather for May calls for pretty nice temps ~ 70’s and generally not much rain. But this year was completely different. The first race the water was in the high 40’s and there was only a handful of people that were willing to show up. Coming out of the water that day, gave you a good shot at hypothermia. I was lucky enough to get out of the water quickly and the only side effect was having no feeling in my toes and arms. Talking was almost impossible and it sounded like I was a bit drunk because of the frozen face. I was literally slurring my words because of how cold it was.
The second race brought sunny weather but high winds which made fighting the waters current just another challenge on top of the still cold water (only mid 50’s).
The third race brought stormy weather and rain, that was an overall just miserable race. I was there to get my points and only that! Swimming in cold water with rain coming down on you makes for an interesting race.
But the final race brought conditions I have never swam in. Sunny and super windy! We had swells out in the lake… solid 1-2 foot swells! It was like fighting through the choppy weather in the ocean getting pushed and pulled all over the place. Add a really bright sun made it nearly impossible to spot the finish.
This was less of a race about speed and more of a race who can muscle themselves through some terrible conditions. Even when I was swimming “with” the current, the swells would crash and pull you down and backwards. There was just no break! But this was probably my best race! In every race, I have finished 4 th place. Just getting edged out by a female (she is seriously fast!), but this was my race! I am a strong swimmer and knew these conditions would play to my strengths.
So, I went for it from the beginning trying to drop the chase group as I chased my friend up ahead (I had no chance at catching her). But when it came down to the final turn I had my rival right next to me and I knew it was going to be a fight to the end. I concentrated on my stroke and made sure I was getting strong pulls while also increasing my turn over and yet it still turned into a sprint the last 200 to get to the shore before her!
I have never been so drained from a swim before and I loved it!
Series Results: 2nd overall male for the 4 race series.
5/2/17: Open water swim race 4 th overall, 2 nd male
5/9/17 Open water swim race 4 th overall, 2 nd male
5/16/17 Open water swim race 4 th overall, 2 nd male
5/23/17 Open water swim race 2 nd overall, 1 st male