2016/17 Open water season wrap up

No more open water races until October. It’s the off season now. It’s time to draw some conclusions and set new goals for the next year. 
I have been swimming since last August, but I started training in September. I swam twelve events from early November 2016 to mid April 2017, all between 1.5km and 5km. At the beginning of the season I did most 2.5km, because I didn’t feel I was ready for doing longer distances yet, but starting from January I entered mostly 5 km. I finished overall first in three races (Albay OWS 2.5km, Mandurah Australia Day swim 4km and Albany harbour swim 4km), and second in two (Fremantle port swim thru 2.5km and Coogee Jetty to Jetty 1.5km), but I was often first in my age group and sometimes I got good placements in the open category of the OWS series. Not only I reached my goals, but some of my results have been beyond my expectations, especially in the second half of the season.

My wife always says that if I enjoy racing, then I should go for it. An open water event can have a satisfying or a bad outcome, but you must enjoy it otherwise it makes no sense to jump into the ocean. At the begininng I signed up for masters swimming because I wanted to do pool events, however I entered my first open water meets becauase of the completely lack of masters pool events in the calendar during the summer season. At the beginning open water races were just a back up plan while waiting for the pool season, but now I can say that I enjoyed it so much that I want to turn open water swimming into my main focus. The reason is double. Firstly open water events offer me a new challenge every time, since open water is never the same. Secondly there is more competition. Competitive elites swimmers often enter ocean races and therefore it’s always a good opportunity for a reality check.

This blog too was borned out of a reality check. I was impressed at how hard it was to swim in the ocean. Swells and cold water (as well as the Cottesloe rif) at the beggining appeared huge obstacles, and during the first races I couldn’t even swim straight, I couldn’t spot the course buoys, I couldn’t pace my swim. It was obviously a lack of training, but also a lack of experience. I learned a little something every event. I learned how to start better, how to spot buoys, how not to fear a bit of cold water (if you feel cold, it means you are not swimming fast enough!). My results got better with training and races under the belt, and I dropped 15 minutes from my first to my last 5k.

I set two goals early last November. They were to win the masters open water state championships and the masters open water series in my age group. I won my age group at the State champs, but I also arrived second overall after having been training for just 3 months. I went then on winnig not only my age group, but the overall masters open water series at the end of the season. I think that I can say “mission completed”. However, after one season passed, now I admit that there is not much competition in the masters open water series, even less if you consider my age group, thus these where not actually unachievable or extremely difficult goals. It was just a matter of swimming one particular event (the masters champs) and entering as many races as possible to get points (the series leaderboard). But I set to reach them at the begininning of my training, when I still had not things in perspective and did not know which results I could really achieve. Speaking about results, I was more surprised to arrive among the first three in the open category in the 5 km of two events of the Swimming WA OWS.

Now it’s time to put more weights on the bar and go for another attempt. The next open water season starts in Spring and for the next months I will swim only in pool meets. From October I will probably enter some of the masters series events and some race organised by surf life saving clubs, but the main goals from this moment are to swim to Rottnest (19.7k) and get a position “as higher as possible” in the Swimming WA open water series leaderboard. 


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