Over memorial day weekend, most of the pools around where I live would be closed to lap swimming and open to the throngs of kids getting out of school and ready to play for the summer. I am familiar with this from my years as a lifeguard, and I love it, but not with the purposes of training. Because of this, I opted to go to the Jersey Shore and race a 2.4 mile open water race. Below is a brief race report:
I got up at 4:45 AM and left my house by 5 for about a 2- hour drive to the Jersey Shore (literally about 1 mile from where the show with Snookie and "The Situation" was filmed. (On a side note, I feel like this post will get some odd links from google with people searching for Jersey Shore related topics- if you are one of those people- sorry, at least I am 50% Italian!)
After driving through some torrential rain and thunder showers, I got to the beach and the weather had calmed down to just rain. The water was about 68 degrees, so almost everybody wore wetsuits (myself included). I was not sure honestly how deep the field would be, nor how fast I could swim 2.4 miles. I started out slightly harder just to get clear of the group. After about 50 meters, I was in third overall and just clear of any thrashing. The top two guys were going after it, and I was not confident in my ability to red line for 2.4 miles. I settled in and just focused on sighting. I did get a little help at a sand bar where I took advantage of dolphin dives to change up muscle groups as well as the fact that they are much faster than normal swimming. Before the second lap, I was passed and was sitting on the feet of the guy in 4th. I pretty much keyed off him the entire second loop as we navigated through many of the 1.2 mile swim racers (who were started 15 minutes after we started). After a few thoughts about how damn long this felt, I resigned to just relax and focus on keeping my stroke even until the last bouy, where I'd make one last attack. When I finally got to the last bouy, I took a few hard strokes to pull up on 4th, then I used a few well timed dolphin dives to get onto shore faster. After the race, the guy behind me asked if I swam in college, which I took as a huge compliment because a year ago at this time I was pretty much just a collegiate runner who once upon a time ran.
Results were here: http://www.jsmultisport.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/Preliminary-2012-Lava-Swim-24m-Overall-Report.htm
The swim was probably short (the race director, Chris Wilcox, said he believes with the storms, the bouys were short to about 2.2 miles. I believe that along with the helpful currents, aided in the extremely fast times.