My last two open water events have been quite different: the first was a 5k while the second was an open water sprint, a 1.5k. In the first one I swam almost more than half race alone, nobody to follow and nobody following. In the second one I drafted for a few hundreds meters, then I decided that it was time to go, and I lead a small group of three until the final rush. Two quite different race conducts with the common thing that my only tactic has been a no-tactic: sprint at the start, hold it as long as you can and see what happens.
Shorehaven. This is my last 5k this season. Let’s just enjoy it, I have nothing to lose and nothing to win anyway. Sound of the siren. Go. Sprint. All buoys are in sight and the pack starts getting shape. The pack…I am not IN the pack, I am leading the pack. I am not supposed to be here. Slow down? Keep going? I feel good and I have nothing to lose, so just keep going. Second turning buoy, who is this guy coming up? It doesn’t matter, just swim side by side with him, I still feel good. First lap turning buoy, oh Jesus everybody looks like overtaking me from every side. White chops, some elbow, a few kicks. Well, draft draft draft…draft… … …draft…it’s another half lap done, turning buoy in sight but no draft anymore. They have gone, bye bye. Did I blew up after 1.5k? Did they just flew away after 1.5k? It is not important now, I must take home the last 3.5k. Keep this pace. Keep this pace. Don’t slow down. It’s hard when your only reference is people from slower waves, but don’t slow down. “Give up” is not in my dictionary. And after all, I don’t not feel that bad either, I am not hitting the wall. Not yet.
End of the race, out of the water arrival, run through the timing arch: 1h 00′ 08″. Wow, what a time! PB! Was the course 5k? It’s more than 2′ improvement from two weeks ago in Rockingham, where I was already wondering whether the course length had been calculated correctly. Who cares, let’s take home my new best, the seventh place, and a little medal for the third place in the open category (18~34, even if I am 35).
Coogee. Last open water race of the season. Give it all, it’s just 1.5k, just a sprint. And come on, fifteen hundreds used to be MY race. It’s just a quick swim from there to here, from “jetty to jetty”. Yes, from there to here, and now I am talking with this really fast guy while walking 1.5k to reach the start at the other jetty. I don’t have a clear tactic, I never have one. I just start fast. Sprint. And then keep it. Keep going and try not to blow up. This is exactly what I will do. Horn sound. Sprint and high elbows because all these guys trying to getting head by pushing me down really suck. The pack is getting shape, and this is a nice pack, I mean there is a bunch of fast swimmers in this race. But today the pack doesn’t look like a “pack”…it’s more like a row. I am third. Great, nice draft, I am not putting in much effort, wonders of the draft maybe? I could go. I can go. I go. I am second but…the leader has already gone, I can just see his white chops in the distance. Nobody to follow and overtaking this other guy maybe has not been a good idea. But here I am and let’s play this game. Luckily this is a 1.5k straight race, just keep in sight the jetty over there and go head. Go head. Go. Now I am realizing that an open water straight race presents a little problem: no guess on how far I have gone and on how much is left. But the jetty is getting bigger and bigger, it must be a few hundreds meters to go now.
I feel hands touching my feet. I knew they were there. I don’t know how many they are and how much they have left in their tank. It’s time to sprint. I will touch before them. You will never get me. I slap the arrival beam. Before them. Whoever they were. Second place in 16’59”. Good. Oh, yeah good.
P.S. I have still to figure out what happened at Coogee. Everybody was recovering from the Rottnest crossing, while I was not. However I am happy of my swim, under 17′ on a 15 hundreds…after 15 years and in open water. I put on my new baths, race jammers (Jaked Keel) instead of my plain common jammers (Orca). And I had a “new” breakfast: homemade chocolate brownie instead of my pre-race oatmeal. An additional energy boost for sure. I also tried some fast carb gel just before the race. Can a new bath, a slice of brownie and some carb gel explain a 16’59” on a 1.5k?