Last Friday I participated in the Friday Night Swim Race at Lake Meridian in Kent, WA. It's a small local event (about 100 people), but with proper buoys, timing chips and kayak support. They had .5, 1.2 and 2.4 mile distances. I opted for the 2.4 mile swim as a final long swim before Ironman Coeur d'Alene next week. There were about 10 other VO2 multisport athletes there doing 1.2 and 2.4 mile distances.
The race started at 6:15 and it's about an hour drive from my work in good traffic conditions. Even though we left at 4:15 and carpooled, we didn't get to the site until 5:45 and then had trouble finding parking. I registered, got into my wetsuit and swam out to the starting buoy (about 100 yards off shore) and the gun went off. Didn't have time for a warmup and didn't even hear the instructions about which direction to swim. As we started I figured I'd just follow the crowd. Thankfully the water was really warm. Definitely high 60s or maybe even low 70s. It felt really comfortable. No breathing issues or hyperventilating. There were only about 30-40 people doing the 2.4 mile swim so after the initial 100 yards it wasn't that crowded either. The sun was bright so sighting was a challenge in one direction, that was the only hardship really. I tried to keep other swimmers in sight when I couldn't quite see the buoys. I feel like I did a pretty good job navigating this time.
I kept my effort moderate on the first 1.2 mile loop and picked it up a bit after we started the second loop. About half way into the second loop I caught up with a pack of 5-7 swimmers and stayed with them for most of the remaining time. I tried to focus on my form during the second loop trying to keep my stroke as efficient as possible.
When I came out and saw 1:03:57 on the clock, I could not believe it! I thought the course must have been short or maybe the clock was restarted after the 1.2 mile swimmers went in 15 minutes after us. Then I realized that it was true, I did just swim 2.4 miles at 1:36 per 100 meter pace. Wow! I was so carried away with my result, I didn't even hear when they called my name for awards. I came in 3rd in the women's race. Me, getting an award in a swimming race? That's a first!
So glad I did this race. I know the water in Coeur d'Alene will be a lot colder and there will be approximately 2800 people trying to swim the same route as me, so I don't expect to be able to swim as fast there, but this race was definitely a big confidence boost :-)