3rd July – Bosworth Water Park
This was my first time entering an ASA Open Water event, there was no qualifying time to meet but it gave me a chance to qualify for the ASA Nationals (if placed in the top 3 in your age group).
There were three distances being swam on the day, 5000M, 3000M and 1500M. Unfortunately I didn’t realise that for my age group (19-24) that I needed to enter at least the 3000M distance to qualify for nationals and I had only entered the 1500M! However this took the pressure off a little, and realistically I’m not sure that entering the longer distance would have been a sensible idea for my first open water race.
Luckily the weather was good as there was a lot of hanging around on the day, the 5000M swimmers started first, followed by the 3000M and the 1500M was the final event of the day. My event ended up being split into men’s and women’s due to the high numbers entered.
So after watching the 5000M event, we had our race briefing and collected our racing caps and got numbered up ready to start. It was a non wetsuit competition (although you could wear one, it meant your result wouldn’t be counted) and the water temperature was a fairly cold 16 degrees! As the day went on, a few of the younger swimmers were really struggling with the cold temperatures causing some to even pull out half way through their swims! Obviously this worried me slightly but all I could think was that hopefully I wouldn’t be in the water too long. My aim was the finish the 1500M in sub 25 minutes.
After arriving at Bosworth Water Park at around 9am it was finally time for my race (around 1:30pm). We all lined up in number order whilst the last of the mens 1500M finished and got out of the lake. I had already had a mini panic as my swimming cap had split as I went to put it on my head but luckily Matt’s coach from City of Leicester had a spare for me to borrow! So non split hat on and goggles on and adjusted and fiddled with way too many times I was all ready to go….
We were counted into the lake and the water is absolutely freezing and my whole body immediately goes into shock and feels numb. The cold takes your breath away which isn’t helpful and it takes me a while just to force my face into the cold water!
Negative part of the day for me was the start of my race, in my opinion it was a bit of a shambles, we started between two buoys in a start line probably about 20 metres across, however about 75% of the swimmers were too far forward and the started kept asking them to move back but nobody seemed to listen except myself and a few others. It was frustrating as it was so cold and at this point you just want to get on with it! Then suddenly the started lets us go, but unlike the other races on that day there is no starting horn so it takes me unawares and I have already lost a few metres on the swimmers in front of me as they started too far forward. So not only have a lost time already, I am now swimming on the kicking feet of the swimmers in front…not fun!
It was probably around a 50M sprint to the first buoy and then a right hand 90 degree turn which I knew I didn’t want to get stuck on the inside of and get swim into, but this seemed to be exactly what happened…partly my inexperience and partly due to the shabby start I think. So after just surviving the first turn and put my head down and try to catch up a bit as I seem to have already lost a lot of time on the leaders. I find myself on the feet of a swimmer which is helpful and I try to pace of her, however her swim route seems a bit of course so luckily I realise soon enough and pull away from her. I then pretty much swam the whole of the rest of the race on my own so not overly exciting. The water was so cold, I couldn’t seem to catch my breath and I’m pretty sure I have breathed about every two strokes for the whole race. Also my hips went numb and stiff which sent me into defensive mode (due to a past injury/surgery) so I didn’t feel that I was using my legs properly. I did seem to settle into a rhythm the further I went on but I was glad to get to the finishing buoys!
Although it wasn’t really the experience that I was hoping for, I swam a decent time of 20 minutes and 12 seconds, absolutely smashing my aim of sub 25 (however a few people think the course was short so that explains why) and came first in my age group!
I have got to admit that it hasn’t made me want to jump straight back in to open water swimming, but it has given me a few things to work on (definitely my start) and it will be interesting to compare with the Nottingham Big Swim event I am entered to do on the 23rd July.