Rolling in the Deep…Sorta Kinda

18 Mar

So, the team hit South Beach this morning for a pre-race swim clinic in prep for Nautica.

Nautica. The race that is now exactly TWO WEEKS away!

Turns out all the open water swimming we’ve been doing over on Key Biscayne, in the nice, calm waters of Biscayne Bay is nothing like what we will be doing come race day.

Holy moly what a difference a wave makes! My guesstimate is that there were about fifty people in that clinic today and I further guesstimate that 75% of them were thinking, “WHAT THE F*%K HAVE I GOTTEN MYSELF INTO?” I include myself in that 75%. For one very specific reason.

See, I don’t have the whole bilateral breathing thing down quite yet and, despite being right handed, I do everything better on my left side. That includes breathing while I swim freestyle. I started working on some bilateral drills last week but it would be overly optimistic to think I’ll get it down to a science in 14 days.

The issue is that we will be swimming out from the beach and hanging a right; swimming the remainder parallel to shore before hanging another right to head home. This means that I will be breathing INTO THE WAVES AS THEY COME CRASHING DOWN UPON ME.

Before we got into the water I was sure my ship had sunk or would be sinking soon. But a funny thing happened on the way to the first buoy (which wasn’t a real buoy but rather our coach doing his best impersonation of one): I realized I kinda liked the motion of the ocean.

After that first turn, when I started my parallel swim, I discovered that there’s a pretty predictable rhythm to inward-rolling waves so I figured out how to time my breaths against them. Wave rolled in: I rode it with my head down. Water flattened out: I turned my head to breath.

It didn’t work perfectly: I definitely sucked in a goodly amount of salt water; but I went with it and didn’t freak out which, as Coach mentioned, in a race like this one is way more important than whether or not you swim fast. Even the best swimmer,  confronted with these conditions for the very first time can have a total panic-induced melt down.

It is entirely possible that the conditions will change completely come race day. The current was very much with us today and the water was cold enough for a wetsuit. Miami could catch a heat wave that screws us out of wetsuits. It could rain on race day or be really windy which would effect the current and the wave size. Also, I have to remember that we only swam about a third of the total distance during the drill.

But if I take anything away from today’s swim it’s that jumping into a bunch of huge waves with 50 crazed triathletes is way more fun than jogging into a lake or flat bay with them. Let’s check in around noon on April 1st to see how I feel after 750 meters. Oh, and 19 miles. Oh yeah, and 4 miles after that.

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One Response to “Rolling in the Deep…Sorta Kinda”

  1. Judy Freni March 18, 2012 at 7:01 pm #

    Um…..as your mother I am now freaking out myself. And I won’t even be in the water. I guess the big question—no, make that two:

    1. How many swimmers will be in the water come race day?
    2. What kinds of safety precautions are in effect for the swimmers? Meaning if people do panic and start taking on water, will someone know they’re in trouble? And come to their rescue quickly?

    Meanwhile, I’m going to try and forget when this thing is happening and you can call and tell us about it after it’s over.

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