Sydney Summer has been fantastic hasn’t it? Don’t get me wrong, when the sun does make an appearance the day is spectacular but these days have been few and far between.
It doesn’t stop us hardy open water swimmers though.
Last Saturday 16 turned up at Balmoral armed with bottles, carbo gel shots, fancy sports drinks, bananas, chocolate bars, sandwiches, coke and the now famous Tori Gorman brownies ready to swim loops of the beach to prepare themselves for Rotto and a couple of other events. A few joined in just for the workout and to enjoy the great feeling of swimming in Open water – there’s nothing better.
The aim of the day was to get some distance done being still 5 weeks out from Rotto and while doing this practise deep water feeding. As you can see in the above photo, the swimmers tread water whilst refuelling as during the race they are unable to touch their boat or kayak at any stage including feed stops. We also tried to practise quick feeds as this minimises any current drag backwards while you stop. Some were a lot better at this than others.
As you can’t control the weather on your race day Saturday’s session ending up being great for practising in adverse conditions. We had light rain, hard rain, thunder, a bit of lightening and later on a coolish wind.
To feed this many people in deep water I came up with a homemade floating drinks station which I was able to paddle out on the rescue board and then drop in the water for everyone to get to. It floated beautifully but not sure how it would go in surf.
The first feed involved about 14 of the swimmers launching at the “feedlot” like they hadn’t eaten for a week. It was hilarious and at the same time a little scary to watch.
As a lot of the race prep is getting your nutrition and hydration right several swimmers weighed themselves before and after the swim to get an indication of how much fluid they lost and/or managed to replace during the swim. We had a mix of results but ideally you don’t want much of a difference. By doing this 5 weeks out of the event it gives us time to change anything and adjust so on race day we know exactly how much fluid is needed and when.
A plus for us on the day were our superb paddlers. A group consisting of Kate, Jennifer, Will, John, Becci and Johnno escorted the swimmers safely round the course. A definite must when doing these training sessions.
We had some great results on the day Tori swam 21km in just over 6 hours, Marty did 6 hours, Tamera, Rose and Penny 5 ½, David, Chris, Ben, Kirsty, Dennis, Des and Collie – 4 hours, James 2hours as he is doing 11km in Vic this weekend, Daniel – 2 hours just as he could and to keep them company, John an hour or so plus paddling, Millie and Anna for a while for company as well.
Sounds daunting, don’t be scared to join in. If you are new to open water you are most welcome to come down and swim what you are comfortable with. I stay at base camp and love taking people out and showing them how to adapt and feel comfortable in the ocean without heading out to NZ and back. Balmoral being a non-surf area is a great spot for this.
At the moment we are running these sessions every second Sat with the next being Sat 4th of Feb. Come and join us either for a swim or even a paddle as we always need more of those.