National Water Sports Centre – July 24th 2016
The Blueseventy Big Swim Nottingham being hosted at the National Water Sports Centre had three distances being raced that day, the 5000M, 2500M and 1500M. I decided to enter the 1500M after my not so brilliant experience racing at Bosworth Water Park for the Midlands Masters race earlier in July.
My event was due to start at 16:00 with registration for this closing at 15:15. I had a quiet morning feeling nervous to myself to prepare for the race ahead (actually involved painting half of my garden fence!). I got my race kit ready and ate some very exciting plain brown rice for my lunch at around 13:00 just before me & mum left for Nottingham. Mum had agreed to come and watch and support me which really gives me confidence because she has always been there cheering me on when I used to compete when I was younger.
We arrive at Nottingham at around 14:30 and park up. The first thing we both notice straight away is the brilliant atmosphere, it is Outlaw Triathlon weekend here at the National Water Sports Centre so there is a lot of people there preparing for the Iron Man event the following day. There are marquees, food and drink stalls and the weather is perfect….good start! So we have a little browse and find the registration tent, so race cap collected we wander down to the start of the swim course where the 2500M race swimmers are still finishing. I talk to an organiser and he tells me that the race briefing for my event will be at 15:50, giving me around half an hour to get changed into my costume and squeeze into my wetsuit. With it being such a hot day, most competitors wait until as late as possible to get into their wetsuits. Once we were all suited up and our race caps on, we are counted to the start for our race brief (at this point we are all melting in the heat in our wetsuits!) and luckily the organisers keep the briefing minimal and we can get into the water to make our way to the start line…..
The water feels amazing, normally the cold water feels pretty awful but on this hot day it is perfect as it instantly cools us all down ready to start our race ahead. The start line is about 20-30 metres wide and due to the horrific starts I have experienced recently I opt to start as far over on the left hand side as I can get to try and avoid the crowd. Usually starting here could mean loosing a fair amount of time due to having to swim across the course to get the the first buoy, but due to the fact that it was such a long straight swim (around 700M) to the first buoy I could move over gradually and hopefully not loose out too much. This paid off as I had a brilliant start, over 100 swimmers and I had no contact from anyone and managed to get into a good strong rhythm with one other swimmer helping to pace me to my right.
Unfortunately my goggles seemed to steam up pretty quickly which obviously meant I couldn’t really see the buoys properly so not overly helpful! I could make out a train of swimmers in front of me so I just kept my head down and tried to settle into the swim.
I reached the first buoy and the first turn with the swimmer on my inside, meaning I had to take a slightly wider path and again on the next buoy after about 50 metres to turn right back towards the finish.
Turning into the current in this direction there suddenly seemed to be quite a lot of debris being pushed into my face (dirt and weeds) so that panicked me slightly but this only lasted for a few minutes and then it seems to clear. I could just make out the big red buoy I was aiming for and can just see a swimmer around 10 metres in front of me and also see a swimmer on my left hand side. I still feel pretty strong at this point and decide to put in a quick burst of speed to try and reach the swimmer in front, easier said than done as he was also quickening up towards the final 400 metres of the race. Looking up I can see the Blueseventy finish arch which I know I now under-estimated how far away it was at this point as in my head it looked around 100/200 metres away, yet in reality it was more like 300/400 metres away! This resulted in me sprinting for the finish too early…ouch!
I caught and over took the swimmer in front of me and had dropped the swimmer that was on my left, giving me a boost of confidence. From my not so clear vision I couldn’t see anyone in reachable distance in front of me so I just tried to keep up the fastest speed I could up until the finishing ramp as I wasn’t sure if anyone was close behind me. Amazingly from the cheering from the crowd I can just hear my mums voice cheering me on, I think she walked along the whole length of the bank side with me! Finally I have only around 10 metres to the finishing ramp and a few strides to the timing mat and its over. In a time of 21:58, 6th lady and 7th place overall.
I walk away from the finish to collect my medal and a good downing of some coke and water. I feel exhausted but I absolutely loved it. I felt I had a good swim and tactically I am improving as well as my open water swimming technique. The girls were definitely dominating in my even with only one man finishing in front of me. The winner finished in 20:06 nearly 50 seconds faster than 2nd place!
So verdict, an absolutely amazing brilliantly ran competition! Friendly and helpful staff, lovely facilities and everything was running on time. I couldn’t recommend an event to anyone more and I will definitely be back next year and may even enter a further distance…maybe.
Final results can be found at http://www.resultsbase.net/event/3512/results