My swim club buddies, Phred, Ashley, Leora and I had entered the 2011 Across the Lake Swim as a team. We were The Fintastic 4. We trained together several times a week, not only in the pool but also in the lake and we had a lot of fun together. Phred designed team T shirts for us and Angelique was team photographer but would soon be promoted to Media Representative. Although we were swimming as a team we all had our individual goals for the day. The race this year was going to be a big one for me. This was the one swim I had been focussing on since September 2010. Today I would find out if all of the hard work had been worth it and if I could achieve the finish time I had set myself of 35 minutes.
Race day began early at 4.15 am. I couldn’t sleep. I had even dreamt about the race and could remember my finish time from the dream (34:36). I was getting fidgety sitting around at home and as Angelique was still in bed I left for Kelowna and sat at the beach listening to music and getting my ‘game face’ on. I was there for 5.30am even though the race didn’t start until 8am. It was what I needed to do though and by the time the rest of the team arrived and we boarded the boats to the start line at 7.15am I was good and ready to get going. Even though this is the third year I have done this swim it has never meant as much to me as this year. Since the Provincials I had certainly found a competitive edge that I didn’t think I had.
I had messed up the seed time on my entry form and had been put in the third wave of starters. I figured I had to be right at the front of the group at the start so as not to get caught up with the slower swimmers around me. I could also see there was a slight current moving south (left to right) so I also aimed slightly left of the finish line in the hope I would swim a straight line and the current would carry me to the finish – this strategy worked pretty well. The biggest problem however was that my goggles fogged up even before I started the swim and I couldn’t get them to clear. I couldn’t see the tree line that most people use as a sighting guide, so I had to use the mountains behind as they were the only things big enough I could make out through the fog. As the race started someone swam straight across my path and I had to literally swim over them. I took the first couple of hundred metres at a quick pace to get out of trouble and clear of the crowd. As I was in front of my start group without the chance of drafting, I had to focus on chasing the pack in the previous wave who were 2 minutes ahead of me. In reality though I couldn’t see them and was swimming by myself most of the way, only becoming aware of other swimmers as I passed them. I couldn’t see any more then a couple of yards either side of me due to of the fogged goggles and had to focus really hard when sighting on the mountains. Only the very small part at the top of my goggles gave me any sort of visibility. I maintained my usual sighting every few strokes but had to sight twice each time instead of the usual one quick look and even had to flip onto my back at one point to clear the goggles, only for them to fog again as soon as I put them back on!!!
I settled down and started to reel in the previous wave of swimmers. I passed the first of these quite early on and passed lots of others before the finish. The swim felt really comfortable and I knew it was going to be a good time – I felt really good the whole way across. As I crossed the line I high fived one of our swim club members who was an official and then broke down when I saw firstly my finish time and then Angelique. She handed me a towel and all I could do was fall to my knees and weep buckets.
The finish time was beyond my wildest dreams at 32:37. Placing me 120th out of 452 finishers overall and 14th out of 34 in my age group. All of the Fintastic 4 had great swims: Leora survived her first open water race and was the quickest of the group. Ashley, Phred and I all recorded personal best times. In the team event The Fintatstic 4 came in 8th out of 14 teams