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Sunday, July 25, 2010

Ironman Swim

The swim was a mass start with 2,500 other people in two sections along the lakeside. With the swim route was effectively an anti-clockwise U shape with a bit longer section along a canal.

Below is view from near the start area a few days before hand. On the race day all the docks were full with supporters and there was lots of boats marking the edge of the swim area.

Ironman Austria

As my brother and I and a few others stood on small beach area next the beach the pre race nerves had started to kick in and that the Ironman was finally here. We decided to go to the right start section and to the left of its middle and two thirds of the way back to minimise any kicks and punches at the start of the swim. Just before the start we shook hands and wished each other the good luck and then we were off on our own races.

Then the cannon fired and the race and the start of a long day.

There was a priest in the water blessing the competitors as they went by, I did not see him but would except any help on the day as long as it was not against the rules.

Below is a video clip of the swim start found on YouTube, there was two sections like this for just the 2,500 people!! Can you spot me I am wearing a black wetsuit and a white swim cap :-)

The first few hundred meters were a bit slow as you had to slow down and/or sight more due to the amount of people in the water. The other alternative was just keep swimming at your own pace and direction and take any kicks and punches in the swim. I decided to use the first method.

In the first few minutes I only got kicked in the arm once by somebody who suddenly decided to do breast stroke while sighting, I got away lightly based on other peoples accounts of the swim.

The lake was really clear and blue/green even with my goggles with smoke tinted lenses. To my shock I was actually enjoying the swim!! The anchored boats that people were watching from (also affectively marking the course edge) came in handy as I was only breathing to the right so I could easily judge if I was getting closer to them and more off the optimal (shortest) swim route. I was getting in a good swim rhythm and I was managing to dodge a lot of swimmers and even overtake a number!!

As I got past the furtherest point in the lake and started heading back I was feeling a bit sea sick and my forehead was feeling really cold. From then I had to stop about every 200m and pull down the swim cap down at the front. I was regretting not using two swim caps as usual do for open water swims in the UK but at least the goggles were not leaking compared to the mask I normally would wear. A couple of the times the lifeguards I assume they were asking if I was ok, I used my extensive knowledge of German and used the international hand sign of thumbs up. After the amount of training and money spent to get to this point I was not going to give up.

One of the things that kept me going was the just keep swimming part of the film Finding Nemo, one of the others was the Mr T mental training.

At this point was only just over 1km from the end of the swim and could see the canal entrance. You could here it before you clearly saw the entrance due to the loud music they were playing. As I swim in to the entrance they were playing DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince - Boom! Shake the Room , a classic tune then it went to some Black Eyed Peas tunes for what I can remember, it was good music to swim to.

Due to the amount of people ahead of me and the canal was fairly shallow the sand at the bottom had churned up and you could not see anything in what have normally been clear water. So I was judging this section by how close I was getting to the right canal bank and if there was a bubbles and therefore swimmers immediately infront of me. Due to hitting a few more swimmers on this section and my forehead still being cold I decided to sight more often than normal.

Half way along the canal was the bridge, which was completely full on the race day.

Ironman Austria

On both sides of the canal banks there was people cheering you on. As you swam along and you tilted your head to breath you could here the music, people cheering and vuvuzelas and whistles, it was quite strange. At one point I thought I was seeing things, there was a group of people in bright luminous shirts and big afro wigs on. Then I swam on and stopped again to adjust my swim cap plus warm my forehead a bit in the air, I happened to look to the left and there was my family who was supporting me, what are the odds of that. You could not planned it if you tried.

Ironman Austria

Below is a video on YouTube of the swim along the canal of the leaders but the atmosphere remained the same even by the time I got there.

I was so glad to see the swim exit and there was a number of people there to help pull you out of the water and up the slope. The carpet was wet and a bit uneven ground underneath add to this I had been swimming for quite a while so my legs were a bit iffy and walked past the timing mat.

Ironman Austria

My time for the 3.8 km (2.4 miles) swim was 1:32:27, which I was pleased with considering I had to stop a few times on the last half of the swim.

Now on to T1.

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