Chronicle of a missed come back: 2016/17 OWS round 2 Cottesloe


This was supposed to be the description of my welcome back to competitions but…it stops just before the race start. Actually the race never started because the organization decided to abandon the event after realizing that weather and sea conditions were not suitable for an open water swimming competition. Safety first, I like this Aussie thing. Anyway, this roughly an account of what happened that morning.

4:15am: wake up. This is not an issue, as I usually wake up at 4:30am. I have breakfast (banana, mango and my home made energy bars) and make coffee. Plenty of coffee, to kick start the day and to take some with me to the meet. I am excited, I feel good but when I look outside the window I realize that today the wind can be an issue.

6:00am: I arrive at Cottesloe under a shower, but as all showers here, it lasts no more tham 10 minutes. I spot an unlimited parking area still available. Awesome. The wind eventually turns up to be an issue, but this morning I took with me my Korean hiking rain jacket. The cold is not scaring ah ah. It is still too early for registration. I find a change room in the SLS Club building and I can wear my Australian green and gold Funky Trunks warm up swimsuit.

6:30am: Got my registration number and my green 2.5km competition cap. Now I can go for my ocean warm up. This is how it looks just before I enter the water.

Cottesloe beach on the meeting morning

Swells are much higher than you can see in the photo. The water temperature feels ok, but just because it’s cold outside too. However, my warm up lasts 10 minutes. Not a great warm up at all. But it’s not for the cold, it’s for the swells: scaring high for somebody (like me) not used at swimming in the ocean. In a competitiom perspective, swells are high not only for me, they are for anybody else too. I am relieved that water temperature is better than expected and I am confident I can win the cold. However, I come outside and I start shivering.

6:50am: again in the SLS Club building changing room. I take a hot shower so maybe I will stop shivering. My god, the water is really burning hot. And while I am thinking how much I like a really burning hot shower after swimming in 2.5m swells, an old guy passes by and asks me how the water is. I answers “really, really hot”. I just realized shortly after looking at his expressions that he meant the ocean water, not the shower. But who cares, I am enjoying my hot shower. The cold is not scaring me anymore, I convince myself that I can think about the cold again at the end of the race. I put on my competition jammers. I grease myself up with wool fat (I must by this again, almost finished. The smell is not that bad, actually…I like it). I put in my sweatsuit pocket two swim caps and my goggles. Almost ready to go.

Yep, that’s me stretching

7:10am: number 242 tattooed on the shoulders. It looks really cool. I start a bit of stretching and dryland warm up, mainly because I am still shivering a bit. I also do some skipping. I haven’t done any skipping since I stopped taekwondo more than three years ago, but they are effective against the cold. I don’t consider doing burpees in front of everybody else, but those would be even more effective.

7:30am: on the shore. Start of the 500m “try-it” kids race. Those swells look about to eat those poor little swimmers. In the meanwhile I put on swim caps and googles and keep on with stretching and warming up. Our pre-race briefing is due by 7:45am but it doesn’t seem to start yet. I am confident that the start is going to be at 8am as scheduled. So…I complete my race set up and take off my sweat suit.

I love my jammers

8:00am: Everybody is waiting for the briefing, 400 participants. I feel a bit cold but I am not shivering. I would like to start as soon as possible before it gets too cold (for me). Many are wearing a wetsuit, so maybe the cold is not a concern just for me. I decide that it’s cold for me as it is for the others too, and that as soon as the race start I will be concentrated on the race itself, not the cold. Two laps of a 1.25km circuit. The buoy doesn’t look neither far. Ehi…wait…the buoys…two buoys just brooke from their moorings…and are on the shore now. I guess that they are going to fix those. Well I was guessing wrong. At 8:15 the Cottesloe round is declared abandoned. I am one of the fastest heading toward the hot shower in the changing room.

Even from a missed meeting like this you have always a list of “things to take home”:

  • The sea is not the swimming pool. In the swimming pool, you decide whether you swim or not. At the sea, the sea decides whether you swim or not. Thus, if you want, go and conquer the swimming pool, but always respect the almighty sea.
  • I was really charged up. I think that overall my preparation was not that bad. I was feeling good actually. Next time I will do a similar carb up and I will stop my morning lifting two days before the competition. Let’s see how this works. Also: my high calories chocolate energy bar taste great and aren’t apparently an issue for my stomach. However I must decide whether to keep using this recipe or switch to another one with less fats and more fast carbs for the race days.
  • The race distance is not scaring at all. It is not really a psychological concern as long as we are talking of just 2.5km (maybe I will talk again about this after Champion Lake in November, where I signed up for the 5km. I am also considering a 10km at the end of the year, but I must convince my wife first. She is not giving her approval anytime soon).
  • Even if I tried to convince myself that the cold was not an issue, I am afraid that it was about to be one. I must overcome this. I must go out there and swim in the sea more often. I will get used to this. Come on, 18C degree water is just 18C.
  • I really wanted to swim that meet. I really want to go back to swimming races. Now I have to wait for other 2 weeks. Next meeting is November 13th, Lake Leschenaultia, 1.6km. I am ready for the cold water, and at least I don’t believe I will find significant swells in a lake.

For the records: air temperature 16.5C degrees, water temperature 18C degrees, wind 18 knots, tide 0.71m, swells height 2.5m, swells period 13.8s, some showers.

Interesting note: the previous day, in the afternoon, Cottesloe beach was closed because of two sharks, one within 200m and the other within 100m from the shore. I didn’t know that (and luckily my wife also she didn’t), I must check sharksmart more often. Another thing to take home if I want to swim in the sea: a bit of cold is an issue I can cope with, a white shark is not.


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