2020 OW Virtual Grand Slam

Back in April as the world was shutting down I was contacted by Mark Johnston about an online event that he was putting together. It didn’t take more than a day or two and then the event was online, and I was registered and started to recruit others in Sweden and the US to join in.

The idea of being able to compete in a time when all IRL races were being postponed or canceled felt like a really good idea. Nothing beats the heat of the moment, but knowing someone somewhere else was trying to swim faster than me was going to have to be enough this summer.

The program was simple. We were to swim four different triathlon distances, one a month for four months. You had the option of racing in a wetsuit or not, and it was possible to race in both categories. The rules were simple. One swim equals one race result. so you could not swim 3860m and take the splits at 800, 1500 and 1930m. You were allowed to submit two times per race per category. In order to be ranked for the individual races you needed to submit a time for the 800m by end of May, the 1500m by end of June, the 1930m by en of July and the 3860m by end of August. If you missed a deadline you could still submit your times for the total series results. Second time submissions could also come at a later date, but only times submitted before the deadline counted to that distances results.

The first race, the 800m in May would be one of the tougher races because the water temperature was colder than what I would like for skins swimming. But the last weekend in May I jumped in the lake to swim the wetsuit time. I wound up winning my class with 10:02. and having the 4th fastest time overall. I was lucky to be able to race again Hampus. Two days later, the water was much colder, but we had to try to the 800m skins. It was probably my slowest swim of the summer, but again I had Hampus to chase after. The cold water really made it hard to breathe, but it was done and I would be able to try again at a later day. But my 11:16 was enough to win my class, but 15th overall.

Next up was the 1500m. The day I decided to swim the 1500m in a wetsuit it was really choppy water. So instead of the usual swim around the course, we swam to down and up the lake. I felt really good swimming and was not really happy with 19:36, again I won my class and was 3rd overall, but then a few days later I did the skins in 21:25. I only placed 2nd in my class and was 11th overall. It felt like it was going to be a pattern all summer. 10% slower with my skins swimming, and falling in the overall placement.

In July I really picked up my swimming. From 120km in June to 166km. But I was not only swimming more, I was starting to swim faster. Even when I thought that I would take it easy I was swimming faster than I did during the summer of 2019. The day I swam my official 1930m, I wasn’t planning on swimming fast. I was rested, the water was calm, and as I turned around the 450m buoy I saw how fast I was swimming, and thought, lets see what happens. At 1500m I had 19:01. faster than my wetsuit time from June, and I felt great. So I kept pushing myself and as I pass 1930m I have 24:35. That would give me 1st in my class and 2nd overall, only Hampus beat me. But I was really not tired, so I decided to finish my 3 laps around the lake. After i finish I looked at all my times. The second 1500 was 19:05. I only last 3 second. That gave me a Vansbro time of 38:06 and a full distance Ironman at 49:08. A while later I did the skins swim and again lost 8-10% but managed to swim in at 26:57. That was good enough to win my class, but again I dropped in the overall ranking to 6th.

Going into August the water is starting to get really warm, too warm for a good wetsuit swim. But not only did I have two 3860m swims I was planning on a 21 and 42 km swim. So my monthly total would again go up. I started the month with a few skins attempts since it was no fun swimming fast in a wetsuit when the water was so warm. My best result that I submitted was 53:28. Considering I swam my first Ironman race in 2014 in 55 minutes in a wetsuit i was happy considering it was without a wetsuit. It was enough to win my class, but again dropping to 9th place overall. Because of all my fast swims in July and several times down around 50 minutes in the full distance I was really excited to give the full distance a solid effort. I swam with Hampus, and we pushed each other. Or I guess I forced him to swim harder since I was in front of him for 98% of the race. But having him in the lake at the same time helped me keep focus on swimming. 48:41 was my time. I won my class, and again only Hampus beat me, so I was 2nd overall.

After the final submissions I was lucky that we had a club championships in OW, 1000m. In that race I managed to improve my 800m time from 10:02 down to 9:48. I also managed to get a better time in my 1930 at the beginning of August with 19:09.

Out of 160 points possible I got 157 points. 80 in the wetsuit races and 77 in the skins.

When it was time to summarize the summers races, I was 2nd overall in the wetsuit category behind Hampus, with a combined time of 1:42:14. But in the skins I only managed 5th place too many fast “old” guys 🙂 with 1:53:07.

Then in the double Grand Slam combing all the times from all 8 races I finished 2nd with 3:35:22 over 16.180m swimming.

Some fun facts about the Grand Slam. Of the 211 swimmers, 143 (68%) completed at least one of the Grand Slams, with 50 (24%) completing both the Wetsuits and Skins Grand Slams for the DOUBLE GRAND SLAM!

Thanks Mark for the Challenge. Thanks Hampus for pushing me all summer.

Karl-Oskarsimmet 2020

Saturday the 13th of June was the first time in the history of our local OW race that I actually was able to participate. In 2016, it was a very very small race with two distances; 925m and 1850m. I spent all morning helping to get the race area set-up, then all afternoon on a boat keeping an eye on the swimmers. The distance 1850 came from the year that Karl-Oskar and Kristina left Sweden on their way to the US. A masters swimmer and local artist helped up create our logo from a photo of the two. I really like the way it turned out.

Logo made by Mona B Klöfver
http://www.mbkartist.com/

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How my taper effected my million meter challenge

So I did it, I managed to keep my taper plans. It took more will power to follow through with it considering there was no Swedish Nationals to taper for. But luckily for me, my swimmers were up for some practice races and I managed not only to reduce my swimming, but cut back in all of my normal training over the last two weeks.

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Vansbro 2020

I am really hoping to be able to get enough help next year so that I can race in our local OW race on June 13th, but I do know now how my July will start.  Yesterday I registered for 5 races over 8 days in Vansbro. But then a few hours later, they announced that one of the starting groups would be a retro theme to help celebrate the races 70 year history.

Vansbro2020
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Vidösternsimmet 6km, 50 minutes after a 21km swim

I cross the finish line of Vidösternsimmet 21+km race at roughly 13:06.  The start of the 6km race was a 14:00.  It made for a stressful situation for me and probably for my wife too.  I so wanted to just relax, enjoy the moment, talk to my friends and other finishers of the race to share “war” stories. Relax in the hot tub and eat. But there was not time for that.  I go over to the registration to check that my wife already got my start kit, I rush to get my bag, turn on my phone and call my wife as I am walking up to the road.  I never expected to finish so quickly, and she had her hands full with Lily getting ready for her race with the two little ones in tow. As I get to the road side, I see her pulling up. I try to smile, relax, and keep telling myself you have plenty of time now.
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Vidösternsimmet 2019 – 21km & 6km races in one day

Back in Dec 2018, one of my Masters swimmers, probable the least likely to do so, announced that he was going to swim the 21+km OW swim. He had been speaker the year before and was inspired to give it a try. It didn’t take much convincing from him until a second swimmer signed up.  After last years tough non wetsuit swim I decided, I should give it another try, but this time with a wetsuit.
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Summer races…

Since my Dr gave me clearance to compete and the only thing holding me back is my physical condition, I have decided to participate in three potentially four races this summer.

First up will be Vansbro 3km OW. Last year I finished outside the top 100 with a time over 40 minutes. This year I am in better shape and know that I do not have to slow down or stop because of my increased heart rate. I haven’t decided between swimming in my sleeveless TYR or my full body. The temperatures will be up around 30C in the air, and over 18C in the water.  This will be my 9th swim and I hope it will be my 6th time under 40 minutes and again top 100.  I will have to bring both suits with me and decide in the morning which feels best.
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