We all received a Team in Training wetsuit for being on the team and even though we practice in them several times, I never quite felt comfortable in it. The air temperature was already pretty warm before the race and after several 90 degree days, the water temperature was warm as well. Even though the wetsuit provides a lot of buoyancy, I knew I’d be more comfortable not wearing it. My goal for the swim (other than to not drown!) was to swim the whole distance unassisted. There are lifeguards out in the water on surfboards and kayaks to assist swimmers if they get into trouble. The rules allow you to hold onto the kayaks if needed but I was determined to make it without needing to hang on! The swim was a giant rectangle marked off in the public beach area at Caesar’s Creek. The sprint distance triathletes only had to complete one lap around but the Olympic distance triathletes had to go around twice. Trust me, a ½ mile loop in open water sure looks a lot different than swimming laps in a pool!
Because of the large number of people in the race, they divided everyone up into groups to enter the water at different intervals. I was one of the last groups to enter the water around 8:30 am. I was very nervous about getting kicked so I hung back a little as we entered the water until it was deep enough to get a full arm stroke. The start was a little rough as I started swimming the wrong direction for a few strokes and swallowing a few mouthfuls of water!
I did the sidestroke a few times to get my breathing back under control but was soon into a rhythm. I struggled at first to see all of the buoys because the sun was creating a glare on the water. I also realize that I was really far behind the other swimmers and that was mentally kind of tough. Another group entered the water a few minutes after me and was starting to catch up so I knew I had to get in a good freestyle rhythm for two reasons. One, so I wouldn’t kick anyone else coming up behind me and two, so I could focus on my own swimming rather than get distracted by the other swimmers. It thinned out a little as I made the second turn but not much longer, the elite racers that entered the water first, caught up to me and lapped me.
Continued in part 3