Sunday the 8th of August will not be a day that I forget for a long time. The plan was to leave home around 0720, drive up to the lake in Stenungsund arriving about 90 minutes before the last check-in time, eat an early lunch or big snack, swim as fast as I could and be home by 18:00.
I leave Växjö on time, but get informed that Pär and Emelie have car problems about 120km north of the race. I offer to pick them, up, but Pär thought they could make it. As I get to my exit for the lake I get a call, they only made it 60km, so I offered to pick them up so he could make it to the race on time. So my 90 minute window got reduced to 5-10 minutes. I continue north and find them on the side of the road near a highway on ramp. We quickly get them and their bags in my car and go back south. After taking the scenic route to the lake, we get lucky with a parking spot close to the lake, walk to the race area and check in with 2-3 minutes to spare.
After we find a place to put our bags down, it starts to rain. With only 30 minutes to the start, we find a bathroom, then put on our wetsuits. With about 20 minutes to the start, we hear thunder. The race is delayed 15 minutes from 12:30 to 12:45. Because of the intensity of the storm, the start is moved up 2-3 times. Eventually when the start was moved 13:30 and we were told that if we were not able to start at 13:30 the race would be cancelled.
At 13:15, they open the lake for warm up. There is a slight drizzle, and a distant rumble of thunder. I swim out about 100-150m and then back to the starting area. I have my new Sailfish Rocket 2.0 sleeveless wetsuit today. I make a few adjustments to how it sits over my chest and shoulders, but otherwise it feels good. With five minutes to the start everyone is starting to ask around about estimated finishing times. People are trying to find which feet they want to follow and who they want to stand behind at the start. In order to make the start more interesting, and to save time for the organizers, the 1km swimmers and we who were swimming the 3km started at the same time. Good thing we had different color swim caps. I only had to keep my eye out for the pink caps, for the mens 3km. 10s before the start of the race I start my watch. Not for getting an exact time for the race, but to help my analyze my swimming afterwards.
13:30 – the race starts. I do my best to go out hard, but controlled. I really do not like body contact when I swim. Races like this are not won in the first 200m, but you can lose a race in the first 200m. Since I only breath to the right, I was standing as far to the left as I could at the start. I can see one pink cap which turns out to be Cristiano. He was really taking it out fast. I did not let him create and window between us. But as he went from start mode to finding his comfort zone, I passed him. Then I noticed that the both of us were actually swimming faster than the 1km swimmers. By the time we get to the first buoy about 330m out, I take a huge breath and look back. I realized that Cristiano was about to place himself either on my feet or the feet of the 1st place 1km swimmer. So I stopped! I let the two of them pass me and I get on their feet. Swimming on peoples feet is not easy for me, since I DO NOT trust that they will swim straight. After another 300m or so, I find my own line, and continue to swim in my own bubble. At this point I do not look back anymore, I only focus on keeping close to the leaders. As the winner of the 1km goes over the finish line, but Cristiano and myself go out on our second lap. As we head out for lap two I look back and recognize Pär is about 20-25m behind us. The second lap goes well. I have no negative thoughts, I feel good, and I feel that as we head out for the third lap that I am about the same distance behind Cristiano and ahead of Pär.
Around 2330m at the first turn on the third lap, I realize that I actually feel really good. I am not tired, I am not having any problems sighting, or breathing. So I try to take stronger strokes. Between the 2330m and 2660m I feel that I am catching Cristiano, but as I round the last buoy I look back as round the buoy I get the feeling that Pär is getting closer. In my head I am thinking I am not sure I can catch the leader in the last 300m or so, but I have to swim faster because I know that if Pär can reach my feet he has a better finishing speed than me. So I pick up the pace one more time. However, this time it does effect me. I can only breath to the side. Every time I looked up I could feel my stomach open up and I had to fight vomiting. But I dig down and push myself as much as I can. I have only been swimming long and easy all summer. But I feel really good minus the gage reflex. Every time I looked up I felt I was catching up. So down with my head and gave it my all.
I cross the finish line in 2nd place. Only 6 seconds behind Cristiano and only 14 seconds ahead of Pär. WOW! What race. 20 seconds between 1st and 3rd.
After the race Pär, Emelie and I head back north to go back to their car. We stop for a nice lunch on the way. By the time we get to their car, its about 16:30 and I have about fours to drive to get home. I managed to drive 2 hours before I have to go to the bathroom, so I stop at Burger King. I get back in my car and continue home. My car warns that I am low on gas. I have 50km left in the tank, but I have 53km to get home…. Instead of chancing I stop and get a few liters. I manage to get to Växjö, top to fill up my car for Monday morning.
777km in the car for a 3km race. I am not sure about the value per meter swimming was for this race, but it was the perfect end to my three week vacation.
Next week I only have to drive 60km, and then get to swim 42km, now that is a real value per meter 😉