The Cottesloe classic mile was not on my plans. But I was convinced by my (super fast) training buddy to sign up for this event. Actually it was not difficult to convince me: I am really hooked with this open water stuff, Cottesloe is the nearest beach to my house, and a mile…come on it’s just 1600 m, no more than an open water sprint.
And really fast and intense it was.
I think that 4 adjectives can summarize well my Cottesloe mile: fast, intense, furious, illuminating.
Fast. I don’t know what happened, maybe the siren used to announce the start was confused with that announcing sharks, but everybody started the race like a 50m sprint in a pool, not a 16 hundreds open water event. And of course, when everybody start fast you have to start fast. I realized after 200m that there was the same simple tactic in everybody’s mind: start as fast as possible, hold that pace and try not to pass away too soon.
Intense. Physically intense. A 1600m sprint demands almost any drop of petrol you have in your tank. No much more to say, either you are willing to use it all until you run completely out it, or not. If you give it all, you can come in at least on a decent time. For the position…well…that depends on the capacity of others’ tank. As for me, I am happy with my 19’23”, not too bad. I am not happy with the position, 19th male (and second in my last meet in the 30~34 category), but I arrived one minute after the winner, that means that at least I stayed (at the rear back) of the leading pack until the end.
Furious. People living on the coast of the Mediterranean sea through the ages developed a quite peculiar method for fishing tuna, called “cetarium” in Latin, “tonnara” in Italian and “almadraba” in Spanish. Google this if you don’t know what I am talking about, look at a picture and get an idea of what the race was like. People pushing, pulling, punching and swimming over each other. The law of the strongest dominated. If you wanted to stay head, you had to fight for your position. Literally.
Illuminating. This doesn’t mean that the sun was shining, although it was a great weather and wonderful sea condition indeed. The race was illuminating because it opened my eyes. I know that at the moment my performances in the ocean doesn’t reflect my times in the swimming pool. But at Cottesloe I couldn’t keep up with the pace of people who usually cannot keep up with my pace in the pool. And I am afraid that there isn’t any secret path to get better: if you want to be good at swimming in the ocean, you have to swim in the ocean. I lack experience, strategy, tactics, sea knowledge…basically everything you need in open water.
However I can take home from Cottesloe that…
…considering all variables, I am not that bad. Maybe.
…I still have room for improvement in ocean swims. Maybe.
…It will take time and plenty of strokes in open water to get better. For sure.