Sometimes you don’t win, but you are proud of your race. Some other times you win but you are not satisfied, you are not proud even if you were the first crossing the finish line. I must confess, the Mandurah open water event was an easy win because nothing, and nobody, pushed me. And I am not proud of my race because…actually it was not challenging.
I think that on Australia day you have the largest choice of open water events of all summer. Most people were participating at the Sorrento round of the Swimming WA OWS. Sorrento has always been called the Rottnest reharsal with its possibility to do a 10km to qualify for the Rotto Channel crossing. More than 900 people gathered there to swim a distance from 1.25km to 10km. Many of those I trained with were there. So if Sorrento is so popular, why did I decided to go to Mandurah? Well, I had more than one good reason. I didn’t sign up for the Rottnest channel crossing, so I don’t need to do any qualifying 10km. Too many people means that the race become quite messy, and personally I don’t like it. The Sorrento round gives points only for the OWS series, and I am not competitive enough in that series (not yet at least). On the other hand, the Mandurah event was a Masters Swimming open water series event, and my goal for this season is to win this series. I just headed down to Halls Head’s beach simply to pursuit my goal. From this perspective, I can say “mission completed”.
I won, I gained points for the Masters Swimming open water series tally, I got my prize. So why am I not satified? Becaused I didn’t push. I didn’t becuase the situation didn’t require it. Unlike the Swim Thru Perth, which was another masters event, here in Mandurah the average age of participants was much higher than mine. I lead from the first stroke to the last one, and I completed 4 km in 54’29” , which is a slower pace than the 5km at Matilda bay four days before, but nevertheless I finished almost 4 minutes before anybody else. But I didn’t really push myself, lack of motivation maybe, but it’s the truth. So I am happy of course. Happy, but not satisfied.
The only things to point out about the race is how I followed, or better, how sometimes I couldn’t follow the course. It was a rectangular of 1km lenght, to repeat four times. Unlike most open water courses on Western Australia coasts which are oriented north-south, this was oriented east-west. The race held in the morning at 8:30am meant sunlight straight in the eyes for half of the course, and the glare made direction and turning buoys almost invisible. Fortunately one of the paddlers followed me for all the race, I think because I was leading, and he pointed me in the right direction a couple of times, when I was almost heading out toward the open ocean (first lap), or heading too inward the rectangular course (second lap). From the third lap I nailed the direction, finally.
Things to take home? A nice red mark on my left arm (still visible after 12 days), a present from a stinger I met during the warm up lap at 7:30am. I am getting used to stingers and jelly fish. I also take home a good training day in open water, one more opportunity to learn how to keep a pace without drafting. And also…I bring home with me the cash prize, which I already invested in a couple of “grown up” race jammers. Racing jammers don’t swim for you, but I still believe that their placebo effect sometimes can make a difference.