Torquay – Round 5

I was scheduled to swim the Sorrento 2km on 3 January 2015 however due to the hot weather and high winds forecast, it was called off 3 days beforehand, leaving me with the decision of whether to go to Torquay or not. After some deliberation, I decided to enter the 2.5km event and sit the shorter one out.

On arrival, it was already well into the 30’s but relatively calm as the photos below indicate.

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However that was short lived. As the morning rolled on, the wind picked up and as a result, the organisers decided to change the course from the upside down L-shape as planned into 2 x 1.25km laps. The wind was really picking up and just before the start, there were plenty of whitecaps. The race briefing was completed and before I knew it, it was go time.

I really struggled from the word go. My wetsuit didn’t feel quite right and I didn’t get a clean start out through the breakers. Charles and I were side by side but the four guys in front had a clear break which they extended as the race went on.

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The only part of the swim that felt good was when you turned the top course buoy and swam towards shore. On this leg, you had the wind behind you and no chop to contend with. I tried to get into a rhythm and start to push however I couldn’t shake Charles and as we exited the water at the end of the first lap, we were still side by side.

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That is pretty much how’s things stayed for the second lap as well. At the top buoy, Charles edged in front but swam wide, enabling me to beat him to the line to claim 5th overall. The time of 31:03 was reasonably good and didn’t tell the story of how tough the swim really was. As the GPS trace below shows, I was all over the place as I couldn’t see the buoys going out. Charles ended up 6th although to be honest probably deserved 5th with his only mistake being the final leg.

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It was good to sit out and watch some racing and as the day went on, the chop seemed to reduce. Some fast times were had in the earlier legs with Charles backing up with a great swim to take 2nd in his age group.

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All in all, the organisers did a great job to run the event as smoothly as they did, battling the weather all day and backing up after a drowning at the surf beach the day before.

 

Now its on to the Bloody Big Swim on Saturday 17 January 2015. Its the second longest ocean race in Australia at 11.2km (behind the Rottnest Island swim which is around 20km) and I’m really looking forward to it. The distance is perfect for me and it will be a good test for feeding during the race. I attended the race brief earlier today and after hearing from a number of great speakers and watching the video from last year, I’m super excited. Swam 11.5km today so all ready to go. I am lucky enough to have Wayn Wong from the Sandridge SLSC paddling for me so looking forward to a nice straight swim following him all the way.

 

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Point Lonsdale And Anglesea – Rounds 3 And 4

Point Lonsdale (RipView Swim) – 1.4km

Held on December 28 this is one of the biggest swims on the calendar, attracting in excess of 1,000 swimmers.

The course is a big arc, starting to the left of the surf club and finishing directly in front of it. There is a strong current which runs with the course, often resulting in very fast times – however as the case was in 2013, conditions can be pretty average.

This year, conditions were absolutely perfect and the early waves certainly had the best of the conditions with the fastest times coming from the juniors and older age groups.

I ended up swimming the course in reverse as a warm up with Frank Christiaan. Was much harder than the correct way as we were swimming into the current the whole way. After watching the start of the juniors race, it became clear that you needed to start well to the left of the buoys to avoid being swept away. Lining up in my wave were the usual suspects. Sam Hume and Stephen Cronk who are both excellent open water swimmers.

I had an OK start and was in the lead pack at the first buoy. Sam made a move and I managed to stay with him for more than half of the race. He ended up pulling about a 2 body length lead on me but I was very happy to be able to hold that gap and second place for much of the race. Right before we turned to come into the beach, Stephen swam past me with a big kick of speed and I couldn’t keep up. All three of us were very close together with Sam just holding on for the win with Stephen 2 seconds behind him and myself a further 6 seconds back. I was really happy with my race, holding a very fast pace the entire way (as the graph below shows) and feeling pretty good.

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Anglesea (Rock2Ramp) – 1.2km and 2.5km

Nearly 800 people participated in the swim this year and for the second time, there was a 2.5km swim (capped at 150 entrants) in addition to the 1.2km event.

For some crazy reason, I decided to swim both which in hindsight was not the best call. We were greeted with some ordinary weather on arrival (I think the first year I have swum the race that it hasn’t been 30+) with fine rain and wind. As a result, the start was delayed for 30 mins while the course was brought closer into shore for safety reasons.

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First up was the 2.5km swim. I had a good start and got through the breakers pretty cleanly. Matt Gilling had a great start and pulled a 10 or so body length lead on the field by the first turning buoy. I settled into second place and managed to keep Matt in my sights for much of the way. After we turned the buoys at the end of the course to head back towards the surf club, we started swimming directly into the wind and chop. It wasn’t pleasant but I have swum in worse – you could maintain a rhythm but occasionally took a mouthful of water in.

I knew William Paatsch was right behind me most of the way but seemed to be holding him off. As we rounded the last buoy to swim into the beach he made his move and pulled alongside me. I knew my only chance was to be in front of him when we stood up however I couldn’t pull far enough in front of him to outrun him, finishing 3 seconds behind in third. Matt took the win around 40 seconds clear.

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With about a 1 hour gap until the 1.2km swim, I got some fluids in and tried to catch my breath. The 2.5km was swum at a fairly good pace so I was stuffed. I knew I wouldn’t have the energy to give the 1.2km the pace I would need to and my only hope was that I could sit on the back of a pack. Unfortunately this was not the case. The start was frantic with Hayden Rydberg (from the 30-34 age group) having one of the best starts I have ever seen. It looked like he was walking on water and pulled a massive lead on the rest of the field. There were about 15 guys together at the first buoy and I was near the backend of the pack. I picked up a few guys shortly afterward but could see 3-4 guys about 15m ahead and knew they were gone. At the end, I managed to hold on for third behind Sam Hume and Stephen Cronk (again).

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Next race is Torquay on 3 January 2015. Will just do the 2.5km swim at this event.