Over the past month I have been preparing for a lot of big races - the 16km Faros Marathon in Croatia, Scottish National Open Water Championships and the next Red Bull Neptune Steps in Sweden.
I did get to head up north to Aviemore, where I competed in SASA North District’s ‘Open Water Championships’. Over 30 – 31 July, I swam in the 1.5km and 5km race at Loch Morlich.
The first race I faced was the 5km and, during the race briefing, we were told it was going to be a circuit of five 1km laps and that the temperature was as cold as 15 degrees. My race plan was to go hard from the start and to be under an hour, and I’m happy to say that for the outset I was within the lead group. Before we even made it round the course for the first time, I put in a big surge of effort to drop the other swimmers and for the next 4.2km I was swimming ahead of everyone. Over that time, I managed to create a two-minute lead, finishing first with a time of 56 minutes.
The second race was the 1.5km – an all-out sprint from start to finish. While the 1.5km is regarded as the ‘distance’ event in pool swimming, it’s very much a ‘sprint’ for open water swimmers.
Getting into that cold water for the second time hit my body like a tonne of bricks, but I knew that others were affected more than me and you could see it in their faces. For this race, I purposely took a slightly wider line heading for the first turning buoy to try and avoid the physical side that sometimes comes with open water swimming – it paid off because I reached it before anyone else.
Similar to cycling, swimmers can sit in behind someone’s draft and use it to pull them forward. This is actually what some competitors were trying to do, so like the 5km race I put in a surge of effort to break free from the pack and before I knew it, the race had come to an end and I was in first place.
All in all, it was a great weekend of racing that came at the perfect time to set me up for my next big competition, the Scottish National Open Water Championships on 13 – 14 August where I’ll be competing in the 2km, 5km and 10km.
Hopefully I’ll have some good news to share with you in my next blog entry. I’ve still got a few weeks of hard work ahead of me before I can relax and take a break from training so keep your fingers crossed for me!