Swimming the Chesapeake Bay Swim for the 21st time was a real eye opener for the instruction I do at Swim4Purpose. I’ve always told my Tri clients the swim focus must be on 3 skills: technique, threshold training and open water skills.
Coming into this 4.4 mile swim I lacked the threshold training that is necessary for increased speed and sustainability in the water. The past 6 weeks I have done only 6 “actual” swim workouts….3 in Lake Linganore with Kevin Sayers (long swims only..3.6miles at most) and 3 with my Frederick training group at the Y. Unwise….yes….but….it also gave me an opportunity to see if proper swim technique coupled with open water experience /techniques can “suffice” for lack of training and give you a respectable swim.
The 1st half mile of the swim was the most daunting ……with the cage fighting jockeying for position and my mind saying “you haven’t trained for this…why are you here”? As the field started to clear in front of me I found myself occupied with technique checklists that helped me focus and develop a re-born feeling of positive vibes. I pictured myself over the mirrors at the bottom of my pool with a neutral head position looking straight down (I have no kick…referred to as a cross-over kick but balances the body with no propulsion)..…arm extension long and quick….tip up wrists….high elbow catch….don’t engage water on pull in towards the body. Hyper-focused on exhalation in the water for relaxation and was able to change my breathing pattern not to breathe on every stroke cycle….very efficient! It all felt well balanced and easy with my heart rate not much above 100!
It was time to find “victims” to draft off of. Didn’t take long…..as I approached a “red” cap to my right who was swimming at my speed , I cozied up to her with my head at shoulder level and enjoyed a free ride making sure I was close….but not too close to affect her swim. I repeated this pattern with other swimmers throughout the 4.4 mile swim (mostly from the side) which assured me constant focus, enjoyment and energy savings throughout the 1 hour and 59 minutes I was in the water… finishing 90th out of 572 finishers….44 swimmers got pulled out because of the strong currents.
Was I happy with the swim? You BET!