Where: Dorney Lake
Course details: 3 laps of rectangular course
Distance: Swim 3800m (OW- Lake)
Facilities: Portaloos, rowing club changing rooms, hot food van
Technical: Number on hand
Freebies: Swim hat. Water. Various cakes
So, the third and final long swim day arrived. I entered this as I said earlier in the season I would do as many of the 4 races as possible. Problem was after entering this a few weeks ago life caught up with me. First I had an attack of vertigo that stopped me training for a couple of weeks, then, just as it was getting better the need to prepare for my PhD viva became a dominating factor. These combined meant my last OW swim was at the Bedford OD, 5 weeks ago. My past three weeks training have consisted of two masters swim sessions and a 28km bike ride, most of which was in the past week. So not exactly well prepared. After some analysis of the Bournemouth results 70 minutes was going to be my aim. I reckoned I was 5 minutes slower than the others there, so my 65 from Box End, with my 5 minute fitness disadvantage meant about 70 minutes to avoid disappointment. The only fly in the ointment was I managed the first 100m of my masters swim the other night in under 1:25, an amazing time for me, so I have some speed, but what about stamina?
I turned up nice and earlier and watched some of the triathletes doing there stuff, but it was absolutely fecking freezing, they had said on the radio on the way up 'highs of 13'. Hmm that goes some way to explaining it. I went and used the changing rooms to get my suit on, had a a chat with a guy in there who was doing his first one, he'd done the distance in a pool (crazy? I've done it twice in a 50m pool, I think, if I counted right) and asked what it would be like, I said easier, which I think is true. As I was leaving a guy came in and sat down next to my stuff and said he thought he'd be the only one without a wetsuit. WTF? swimming in late September without a wetsuit, madness. I went down and tried the water out as there was 20 minutes till the start. This turned out to be both a bad, and a good idea. It was bad in that I found out just how bloody cold the water is, ice cream headache time. Damn it hurt. The lifeguard told me she couldn't feel her feet, I can understand why. The good aspect was that by the time the briefing was over and I got back in the wind chill had made my feet, hands, and forehead numb so I didn't get the shock a second time. Whilst at the briefing chatted with a couple of girls, who had commented that I had swimmers feet. I assume that was some kind of compliment and not a reference to my lack of clown shoes, they guessed from the fact I was wet that I'd been in and asked what it was like, cold I told them, but not as bad as April. turns out it was the first long swim at least one of them had done.
Some how in the confusion I had ended up near the back in the middle. Crap crap crap. I now had to make my way through the washing machine. I didn't come out unscathed. After a couple of fists to various places I got one in the goggle. Whoever you were I hate you. I now had a goggle that was filling with water and a pack of adrenaline fuelled swimmers bearing down on me. Think. Go outside? I did and managed to find 10m of clear water after a minute, dead fish impression and the goggle was clear before I could be mown down. Now I discovered the nice thing about Dorney, you don't really need to sight, you just find the right rope and soon enough you hit the buoy. Apart from the obligatory ruck at the first and second buoy the first and second laps pretty uneventful. I'd cocked the timing up royally. I looked halfway and saw 11:10 and thought I was on target. Turns out I was ahead of target as that was THE time, not elapsed time. I only worked this out on the second lap. I saw 11:17 at the end of the first lap, and thought it had stopped, but when I saw 11:25 at the first turn I realised my mistake. Muppet. By now the wind had made the chop a bit nasty, it was into on the way up, then across it, but breathing to the right I just got it in the face, then at least you got it following on the way home. Second lap 11:40, so 23 minutes, I was fading.
On the third lap I was getting overtaken, [insert more expletives here], I was obviously fading too quickly. I just had to hold on in there. And I did, I saw 11:52 in the top corner and knew I had a fair bit of work on my hands, I tried to draft the couple of people that overtook me and picked up the pace in the last 200m, obviously with some success as I failed to stand up first time when it came to getting out the water. Which I managed after 1:09:15 according to the provisional results, giving me an 82nd place. Out of 130 that's not wonderful, but after my refined sugar and sofa diet I'll take it gladly.