Thursday, 14 December 2017

The Swimming side of things

Oh boy does today feel like a Friday.

You know when you have those days and you are dead set certain that it is the end of the week, but then it ends up only being mid-week. That is today all over for me. Perhaps it is a sign of the time of year, everything seems to be on the slope of slowing down, slowly slipping down to Christmas. I have certainly had a lazy kind of day with regard to brain function.

At least tomorrow will actually be Friday, so that is some compensation.

Tomorrow being Friday means that it is time for a bit of Swim Smooth action down at Claremont Pool. As usual this is a session that I am really looking forward to. While this time of year is a bit quiet for Ironman competitors, this weekend is the Western Australia Sprint Distance Championship, so there are still plenty of people working hard in the pool. On top of that the WA open water season is really in full swing at the moment, with a round of of the next round of the Open Water Series on Saturday and a one of the Rottnest Island Channel Crossing qualification events on Sunday. In many ways this time of year is a busier one for the open water swimmers than it is for the triathletes, particularly for the Rottnest folks who are right in the middle of peak training.

It could be an interesting weekend of racing on the Open Water side of things. The Leighton 5km which is on Saturday shouldn't be too much of a problem, but the 10km event on Sunday could be faced with some very extreme conditions. To be allowed to swim to Rottnest solo you must complete one of the qualifying 10km races in a certain time (3 hours 45min I think). There are only 3 or 4 qualifying events and so if one turns nasty it can have a real impact on competitors. It is quite the decision as to which 10km event people will target. The first event was a few weeks ago and so it quite early in most of the swimmers preparation. Doing the first 10km event gets it out of the way, but it also means a large disruption to early season training and there is also a risk that people may not be prepared for a 10km event at that stage in their training.

However, skipping the first race and leaving it for later obviously has risks associated with it too. If you skip the first event and then the second is blown out (likely this weekend) then there is a lot of pressure placed on the later events. For people who are right on the cusp of the qualifying time it can become a bit tenuous. If that last swim doesn't go to plan, then it can mean the end of all the preparation.

Paul is obviously very experienced at preparing for marathon swims, in particular the Rottnest crossing and he usually recommends people skip the first race and target later qualifying events in order to maximise their early season preparation. Despite that however, many members of the squad took advantage of the first qualification event and got it out of the way. Given the weather this weekend, I suspect a few of them are quietly relieved.

Still, what ever tactic people choose and what ever the weather brings this weekend I always enjoy watching the Rottnest swimmers build at this time of year. For a lot of the swimmers they are really getting into their training by this stage, which usually means 20km+ of swimming per week, including some truly big swims on the weekend. As these volumes build you see the over all quality of the squad improve and the paces drop. Different people find their way to the front of the lane and some of the real marathon swimmers start coming into form. Always a cool time to be on pool deck, and a great reminder that there is a world outside of Triathlon.

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