I’m not trying to be a copycat, but I’d written about my JR Splash experience on my own blog, so I decided to send it on over here. I’m currently on a swim sabbatical due to a kick to my right ear, which ruptured my eardrum, at a Richmond Tri Club open water swim last Friday. Just another thing to think about while OW swimming…anyway, on to the race report.
The James River Splash turned out to be among the best open water swims I’ve ever had, in terms of time, speed, and skill. Coupled with my quarter-century birthday, I couldn’t have asked for a better morning.
The morning of the race, several triathletes packed into my car and accompanied me to Robious Landing on the Southside of Richmond. There were well over 100 swimmers entered in the race. For a short warmup, I swam out for 5 minutes, feeling good and smooth. Then I turned around. I had to exert a significantly greater effort to get back to shore. It’s 9:18! I thought. I’d better get back so I don’t miss the start! Fortunately, I didn’t.
There were two waves; I was in the first. Yellow and green caps were distributed to the swimmers; I have no idea whether a different colored-cap meant anything or not. I was busy talking to Caroline when the race official shouted “GO!” I quickly put my head underwater and began swimming as fast as I could. I felt strong, and settled into a decent pace after maybe the first 7-10 minutes, while still feeling I was challenging myself. The race was so short that there were always swimmers surrounding you — not like Smith Mountain Lake or the Bay Swim where after the first mile or so the pack dissipated.
Caroline and I passed people; a few times we even took divergent paths around the swimmer we desired to pass and reconnected once he was behind us. When she began to pull ahead, I ramped it up a bit.
I perfectly executed a backstroke turn at the turnaround buoy. I’d made sure to find out the number of buoys before I’d started, but I was too busy trying to get around people and push people off me to actually count them during the race. I was also focusing too hard to even look at my watch until the very end. I’d be curious to know what my time was at the midpoint to see how much of a difference that current really played. I’d say it’s a good idea if you can steal a glance at your watch without slowing yourself down too much.
I swam next to Caroline throughout much of race. It’s as if we operated as a team; we drafted off each other and were never more than a few feet from each other, except at the end when she sprinted ahead and beat me by 8 seconds. (I swear, I wasn’t aware that I was so close to the end!) I came in at 29:19 — my fastest open water mile ever!
I stuck around after the Splash to catch up with swimmers and to attend the awards ceremony. Because the 20something age groups don’t tend to be as populated as the others, it was possible that I’d won an award. I left with a bronze medal, thinking I’d came in 3 out of 4. Later that morning, Elizabeth informed me I was 3 out of 12!
So, would I recommend this race? Absolutely. It was quick, and I’d say it’s a safe, comfortable race to do if one is trying to break into open water swimming for the first time.