Open Water Swim
June 10, 2007
Two years ago I did my first open water swim at this event. The swim takes place in Sunnen Lake at YMCA of the Ozarks. The course is a triangular shaped mile. I signed up to for the two miler along with Josie who would experience her first open water swim.
Josie and I left around 6 am. We had a scenic drive through the country and I guess arrived around 7:45am. It was chilly and there was mist coming off the lake. We were both a little cold so we stuck our hands in the water and it was warm in the shallow shoreline.
We went to check in. If you swim the mile you got a lime green cap and the two milers received bright pink caps. I like those pink caps! Your number is written on both sides of your cap and on one arm. Josie was 6 and I was 7. Then you turn in a driverís license. This is how they make sure everyone exits the lake, you retrieve your id at the end.
This is not a big race maybe 18-20 people total for both distances. Everyone is friendly and we hung out and talked until around 8:45 when race instructions were given on the shore. The course would begin in the water, then you swim counter clockwise in a triangular shape. Straight down, go left to the cove and then back. Two milers swim it again and then you exit on the shore. You run and your finish time is recorded when you cross under the flags.
The two mile swimmers would start ten minutes before the one mile swimmers. Josie and I swam out to the starting buoy. Oh! It was chilly at first, but actually once you started to swim the temperature was just fine. We all treaded water until someone shouted 30 seconds to start and then this loud horn when off. It was cloudy and overcast which made it difficult to sight through your foggy goggles. Since there were not many people the pack split up quickly and I was alone. So following someone was not an option. I had to stop, tread water and clear my goggles three times and while I did this I looked to see where I was. This was the first time I have ever stopped and cleared goggles during a race, it was that difficult to see. Fortunately I swim straight, so occasionally I sighted and just headed in the general direction. Sighting is where you lift your head and look up, think of an alligator. Adding to the sighting difficulties was the size of the marking buoys. They were not very big.
I swam down to the first buoy and then headed to the cove. I got to the cove and as I turned to breathe there was this scummy, icky stuff floating on top of the water-ILL. I decided not to think about that and focus on getting to the third buoy and starting the course for the second loop. I got about halfway to the last buoy and was feeling comfortable, looking forward to the second loop. I knew my way now and navigation would be better. I reach the third buoy and a girl on a kayak hollers to me. I stop, look at her and she tells me I have to stop because there is thunder. I swim to the finish, jump out and run under the flags.
Josie had already finished, so weíre all talking and I find out that the one mile people got sent back in at the second buoy, in the cove. I decided that I was fortunate to have completed one complete loop. I would have been disappointed to not get at least a mile in. Josie and I got our pictures taken and then I looked at the clock it read 33 minutes. Iím not sure about the seconds. Then I find out that they are not recording times. I guess because nobody completed the race they signed up for. Iíd been out for a while but I had no idea what my time was. Last time I swam the one mile in 33:30 so I know I have improved on that, plus I was swimming at two mile pace, had I know I was finishing I would have surged for the last 1/3 mile. With that in mind I was pretty happy with my performance. Josie liked open water swimming and had a positive first time experience.
It was cloudy and chilly. After about 20 minutes the life guards decided that we could get back in the water. There was a lady who had swum the English Channel four times and done several other incredible open water long distance events. She was in town from Chicago to certify the course. Since our race was shortened, she put on a clinic for whoever wanted to participate. About seven of us got in the water and she swam with us. (Josieís would have had trouble treading water with her injury so she opted out.) It was and incredible learning opportunity. She gave tips on sighting, showed us how to bunch swim and to pass over someone. Yeah, pass over a person. You push down on their legs and drag your body over them. We tried this. Then she showed us this really cool way to swim freestyle to the buoy and flip over, do a backstroke pull (for visibility) and then roll back over. We practiced that a couple time and then the life guards told us they saw lightening and we had to leave immediately. So we swam to the nearest shore, and got out. We had to wade though these reeds, plants and slimy stuff and then get out. That was creepy.
Speaking of creepy, they have these huge fish in the lake. When you go to the dock off the back of the lodge/conference center you get a great view of them. Thankfully I didnít see them last time until after the swim. So I didnít tell Josie about them because she was apprehensive already. Well, she went down on the dock to take pictures of me doing the clinic and ha, ha, she saw them! Fortunately she was done swimming.
Brunch at the dining hall was included so most of us went and we pushed several tables together and had lunch. It was a fun day despite the weather. Weíve got a lot of work to do before Big Shoulders.