Open Water

Ever since our coaches published the May training calendar in late April, I had been nervously awaiting Sunday, May 31st... our first open water swim!

As you may know, we've received a record (much-needed) amount of rainfall in Georgia over the past couple of months. And the weather didn't really get terribly warm until the past couple of weeks. Needless to say, I was TERRIFIED that the water was going to be freezing cold!

On Saturday morning, when driving over Lake Allatoona at 7am on my way to our TEAM bike ride & run in Cartersville, I looked down at that water and just shivered thinking about what the next day would hold. Sunday morning at 8am, I was parking at the beach at Dallas Landing, shaking in my flip-flops. As I paced the parking lot, eating my protein bar, I REALLY, REALLY, REALLY did not want to get in that water! For no other reason than water temperature. The rest didn't really intimidate me too much - I just HATE being cold!

Coach Lee jumped in the water to try to show us that "it wasn't that bad." Now, I have total faith in my coaches, and trust what they tell me (I mean, they've just about finished turning me into a triathlete!) But, honestly, I didn't believe him this time. Here we are getting ready - I'm dipping my feet in and putting my goggles on (I'm directly in the center of the picture, pink swim cap, black & white top, facing the water):

Our first task was to swim out to a buoy and back. Said buoy was maybe 150m out from shore? So, three lengths of a 50m pool. Easy.


OK, so the water temperature was WONDERFUL! Nothing to be concerned about... probably 75 degrees, and with the warm sun beating down on us, it actually felt FANTASTIC! Here are the real things I should have been concerned about:

Issue #1 - when you open your eyes in the lake, all you see is green. Solid green. Like, can't see your own hands in front of your face, because all you see is green. You don't realize that you're swimming into someone until you've climbed halfway up their legs (yeah, our team is close like that). You have no point of reference for where you are going, or where you SHOULD be going. Which brings me to:

Issue #2 - I cannot swim in a straight line. This should come as no surprise, because I cannot even walk in a straight line. Our coaches have been trying to get us to practice "sighting" in the pool (looking up out of the water every few strokes to make sure you're going in the right direction). Sounds silly? Well, in the pool, it is silly. The pool is the shape of a rectangle. There are lane lines on either side of you, and lane lines painted/tiled into the bottom of the pool. It's kinda hard to get off course in the pool. It's also hard to sight in the pool, because there's really not anything to look up and focus on.

The lake (or river, or ocean) is an entirely different beast. You completely lose any point of reference in open water. Without looking up frequently, you will find yourself swimming in a completely wrong direction! I did. More than once. It was just crazy! In a somewhat non-funny way. I mean, do I really need to add more distance to my swim on race day? Something to work out in the next few weeks.

After the swim to the buoy and back, we re-grouped on the beach to simulate an actual race start:

This time we swam out from shore to one buoy, across (parallel to shore) to another buoy, and then back to shore again. And again, if we wanted. Here's what we looked like:

Here I am coming back in:

Shut up. We all look like that. Were you in that lake with me yesterday? I didn't think so. (And if you were, I will go find your picture where you look like this!) ;-)

And, here is my AWESOME Summer 2009 TRI Team - Team in Training, Georgia Chapter!!!

I'm "TRI"-ing to save lives...want to help?

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