Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Swimmin' with the fishes

Last Sunday T and I headed out to the Stevens Creek Reservoir for the Catfish Open Water Swim. You could choose either 1.2 miles or 2.4 miles. Or if you're *really* adventurous (aka "nuts"), you could do both distances. We opted for the shorter one. We figured this would be another good opportunity to get used to being kicked, pushed, slapped, and swum over in general whilst being in water with the clarity of mud. If you can ever get used to that.

We arrived plenty early and boarded our shuttle bus for the ride to the reservoir. Very entertaining. The driver threw that bus around like it was a compact car and stopped and yelled instructions to the completely bewildered and clueless teenage volunteers. Probably less than a 5 minute ride and we were there.

Now we had about 40 minutes to sit around, basically on the ground (ahhhh, so that's why so many people were carrying those collapsible chairs) in the overcast morning cool. Soon we decided to slide (or stuff, push, tug, repeat) into our wetsuits just for the added warmth. We couldn't hear a word the announcer was saying, so when it got close to our start time we headed down to the start to warm up a bit. And warm up we did. The water temp was warmer than the air and felt so good. We got the briefing about where to swim, which seemed to mostly consist of 'follow the massive group in front of you' for most of us. Eventually we were given the start countdown and most of the group took off. We waited a few seconds for it to thin out a bit and then started our swim.

At about 50 yards into the swim, I take a breath to the left and see a guy making a bee-line for the shoreline. Poor guy must've had a panic attack or something.

Basically I just kept swimming, swimming, sighting, swimming, swimming, sighting. I had open water around me for most of the time, with a little jockeying for position and swimming around slower folks. But mostly I just kept going and going. I did realize that just like running, it takes me a while to settle into my stroke and settle my breath to the point that I'm not gasping. Unfortunately in sprint distances I don't think I have enough time to settle in, which makes it seem like I'm panicky and running out of breath for the whole swim. I guess I need to work on that.

Eventually I spotted the last buoy and swam until I couldn't swim anymore, then stood up and trotted up to the timing mat. Official time was something like 43-1/2 minutes. Not great, but not horrible either.

We later found out that the first finisher for the 1.2 distance came in somewhere around 22 minutes. And the first finisher for the 2.4 came in around 44 minutes. Wow, they're swimming *twice* as fast as me. Of course they were both Olympic team swimmers doing some training, but still. I later found out that the female Olympic swimmer was a distance swimmer, which is new for the Olympics this year. She expected to swim the 6.2 mile Olympic event in about 2 hours. Gulp.

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