Sunday, May 11, 2008

50 Cents a Metre - The High Price of Cold Water Swimming

10.2 degrees Celsius. That might be a good temperature for some things (the inside of a fridge perhaps) but it's generally not a favoured water temperature for swimming. Welcome to the Cultus Lake Triathlon!

After rumours all week about the lake temperature and conflicting reports from Joe Dixon (14C) and the TriBC rules guru (12C) at Saturday's pre-race meeting, the actual coldness of the lake turned out to be even lower. On race morning the swim distances for the sprint and olympic races were shortened to 200m and 500m respectively and racers were given the option to not swim.

I was darned if I was going to miss my part of the race, I paid $50 for this after all, so I donned my wetsuit and prepared to face the chill. I figured the cold and added restriction of the neoprene swim cap would help my with my Swim Start Psychosis Immersion Therapy (SSPIT [tm]).

Not much to report about the actual swim. I was unprepared for the starting gun but took off without incident. I was initially okay getting my face in the water but had someone swimming way too close to my left side and couldn't get away from her - I finally decided she was trying to huddle up for warmth! The swim was a mess as people were having trouble keeping their face in the water and breaststroker's whip kicking feet kept coming perilously close to my head. near the first turn I was distracted by a panicking swimmer (gasping, crying, full on panic attack) clinging to a buoy but seemingly unnoticed by the kayakers. Such was my lack of focus that I almost stopped swimming while the drama unfolded (not that I heroically did anything to help). I swam harder on the way back but definitely wasn't anywhere near full speed. Getting out of the water on rocky beach with mostly numb feet was a challenge and a lot of people passed me there and on the run up to transition. Overall, a pretty useless swim.

Once again, I wasn't at all aggressive in the water. I didn't really do any mental preparation to think myself through the swim or strategies for dealing with the crowding, so the swim was a failure in that not only didn't I achieve what I set out to do but I didn't even try.

I also felt a bit silly doing less than 20 minutes in a race where everyone else was doing two hours or more. Relays definitely don't give the same satisfaction as the full meal deal.

I still feel fried from the Wildflower camp and race, not a great excuse but I've been distracted, tired and generally a space cadet since getting back so perhaps I need a bit of recovery time.

That said, it was nice to visit with my Dad, hang out with Mary and the various club members so all in all it was a good weekend.

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