I had come to realise that if I was to be more confident in the ocean swim environment I had to be fitter, and also get more comfortable swimming in the ocean. So I decided to change my training pool to the Andrew Boy Charlton Pool in Sydney. The only problem was this pool was closed during winter, and was a thirty minute walk from where I lived. Thus I continued swimming at North Sydney Pool until early September.
The Andrew Boy Charlton Pool was named after an Olympic swimmer from the 1920s. This pool has an idyllic location perched above Sydney Harbour overlooking Potts Point and Woolloomooloo. To get to it I walked through Hyde Park and the Domain past the NSW Art Gallery and along the eastern side of Mrs Macquarie’s Chair. The pool was a joy to swim in.
My plan was to do the Cockatoo Island swim once again as I was familiar with the course. I realised I was becoming dedicated when I turned down an opportunity to attend a centenary pool for the organisation I worked at which was scheduled for the night before the swim.
When I arrived at the Dawn Fraser Pool at Balmain I was interested to see that the swim had changed slightly: we now had to swim anti-clockwise around the island. This was due to the recent changes to the ferry timetables. We were told at the briefing that if a swimmer did not make it to the ferry wharf on the island within thirty minutes then the swimmer would have to wait for the ferry before continuing. The other problem was that I would not be able to look at the island as I only breathed on my right hand side.
My wave started in the water and I made sure I swam moderately fast to get past the ferry wharf. Fortunately I met this goal, along with most of the rest of the field. When I was two-thirds of the way around the island I was starting to struggle. I was getting slower and could feel the effort of getting that far. I regretted not doing more preparation, but it was too late now.
Finally I made it back to the start line and crawled out of the water and over the finish line feeling exhausted. I could only look in awe at those swimmers who had moved past me with apparent ease and grace.
The free summer fruit was very welcome on a warm morning and the mangos were delicious.
My time was twenty-five seconds slower than last year. I was quite disappointed but realised that I would have to up my training regime to get back into condition. Doing two km in the pool two or three times a week was not enough to swim well over longer courses. The choice was to do the shorter one km swim races or build the intensity of my training.
But at least my 2011 swim season was under way.