Monday, May 17, 2010

Open Water Clinic

This last Sunday I experience yet another first: our first open water swim. After a carpool ride up to Sandy Point, MD we all stood at the waters edge donning our newly purchased wetsuits wondering what we'd gotten ourselves into. The water was supposedly 60-62 deg and this Florida girl was hoping for a sunny sky so she could at least pretend it was a warm day at the beach, but unfortunately what I got was gray overcast with a strong wind. Because of these conditions the Bay was pretty choppy and once you passed the sand bar you could see some substantial swells... awesome.

So what's first? Getting in the water. You laugh, but just dipping into that chilly water got your heart racing. After the initial cringing and the inevitable and brave dunk in, we all swam out just past the sand bar to tread water and acclimatize. While treading water, we went over some basic pointers and then headed back towards the shore for our first simulation. We were to swim straight out into the bay, perpendicular to the shore, to a buoy estimated about 300 meters away, so 600 meters of straight swimming out and back. What you don't expect is that once you're out there with people swimming at every angle, waves lifting you up and dropping you down a couple feet, and a current that keeps pulling you off course, that everything you've learned about form and strategy has gone out the window. Basically you are trying to see a pin prick orange dot, in the midst of waves, while also trying to avoid getting kicked in the face. And have I yet to mention how tight the neck of my wetsuits is?

There are just so many things going on that it's really easy to get intimidated and overwhelmed. I did make it though, to the buoy, around the buoy and back towards shore. When I came in near the end of the group I was kind of disappointing that so many more had seemed to handle the situation better. Then I learned that a large group had actually turned back half way out, not able to handle the conditions and giving up on the goal to make it to the buoy.

We practiced the several different ways the triathlon swims can start: running start from the shore line, from deep water in the treading position, etc. After two shorter swims we were done, and by done I don't just mean with the training, but also just completely physically spent. We probably swam 1200 meters, but adding in the rough conditions, I think that was a pretty good work out.

We rinsed off, threw on our sweats and did what anyone else would... went out for pancakes!

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