Last Sunday I participated in the Fourth Annual Cleveland Tri Club Swim Challenge. This is the third year for me since I had to work on the day of the Challenge in 2012.
In 2010 I swam 8k yards. In 2011 I swam 10k yards. 2013 was going to be a repeat of 2011 as I had my eye on the 10k yard mark.....or in Swim Challenge terms it was 100 x 100.
I didn't do anything special for the build prior to the Challenge but I felt confident in my technique and fitness to get me to the end.
My longest single swim had been 5,000 yards a couple of weeks out. However I have been swimming an additional third day each week with a Masters swim on Saturdays.
So I showed up intending to crank out my 20 x 500's as in previous years. This year I was placed in lane two which was for some faster swimmers. When I signed up the form asked what intervals I would be swimming. I had circled 1:40 because that was the pace I was expecting. However, the people in my lane were starting each interval on 1:40 meaning they would be swimming faster than that.
In fact, it meant the pace would be more around the 1:20/100 yard pace with 20 seconds rest.
I didn't make it through first 500 when it was apparent that my plans and their plans were going to clash significantly. So I bailed on my plan and decided to follow what the others were doing.
My first set with the group would be 10 x 100's. I settled into the last position and tried to stay in the draft. Yep...sure enough we were hitting 1:20 to the wall with 15 - 20 seconds rest. I could do one of two things. Drop down to another lane or suck it up and hang with the group as long as possible.
I stayed put in lane two with Larry, Melissa, Ed and Courtney. That first 1,000 together actually went by quickly. We changed things up to straight 500's and even a straight 1000, which I didn't want to do again. Swimming 1000 yards straight is just more mind numbing than usual.
The 500's were pretty good early on because we were holding around 7 minutes for each 500. But the later 500's were a struggle.
At the 5k mark we took a small break to use the bathroom and fuel up for more swimming. During the second half of the swim the magnificent 3 (Larry, Melissa and Ed) decided to kick 5 x 200. Unfortunately I didn't have any of my swim toys like pull buoys, paddles, fins or a kick board. Since this was a swim challenge I was going to swim the entire 10,000 yards.
I took the rear of the pack again and swam freestyle behind the kickers. As long as I was starting and finishing with the group we were swimming the same amount and could verify the distance with each other.
And don't worry about Courtney. She was still swimming with us....only faster than us. Being a college senior, and a swimmer since age 6, she was just motoring along. At one point we were swimming along and I felt her catch my feet. I pulled as close to the lane line as possible in order to let her pass me before the wall. I buried my head into the water so I could watch for her pass on my left side.
All of a sudden she was swimming underneath me with a powerful dolphin kick. I slowed way down to let her surface and reach the wall. When I talked to her after the swim she said that someone was coming the other way and she couldn't squeeze between us, so she went under me. I was quite impressed by her underwater pass. She finished her 10k yard well before we did.
With 2000 yards remaining Melissa said we could finish before noon if we kept a 7:20 - 7:30/500 split. We only had the pool reserved from 9 - noon but I knew finishing before noon wasn't a priority.
After the first 500 I was really starting to feel the loss of energy in the arms. They were a little heavy and the pace was beginning to get out of my ability. Ed opted to put his flippers back on to keep the pace. I slid down to an open lane and finished my last 1,500 yards on my own.
I finished just past 12:00 but I knew my actual swim time was less than 3 hours. Probably more around 2:45.
Overall I was happy with the swim. Aimee did the swim challenge as well and completed 5000 yards. That is the cool part about the challenge, everyone can come down and swim as many yards as they want. People swam anywhere from 2,500 - 12,000 yards. The people in lane 1, which held some superstar swimmers, went above and beyond the 10k.
I was most satisfied with the swim because I went outside my comfort zone in the pool. I have been swimming 1:20/100 in the pool thanks to the Masters swim I've been going to on Saturdays. But to maintain that type of pace was the unknown. I wasn't sure if I would burn out well before reaching 10,000 yards.
I won't be swimming another 10,000 yards any time soon, until next years challenge. Unless you are a top level swimmer this type of yardage is not necessary, but the challenge and bragging rights is just another way to show what you are capable of. If you can do this what else can you do?