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.