For this weekend I had a choice to make. I could do the Cross the Lake swim on the Saturday over 3.8 km, or do the Tamarama Clovelly swim on the Sunday over 2.5 km. I knew I was not up to both, so I decided on the Cross the Lake Swim. I had done this swim in 2010, so it would be good to see the comparison with 2012, and I knew the course. It also gave me an opportunity to catch up with some mates in Newcastle.
I convinced several friends from squad to join me on the swim: Karl, Shayne, Katarina and Gordon. The swim had an early start with registration completed by 7.30 am, so I drove up the F3 from Sydney early in the morning. There was a bit of fog on the freeway which was annoying until I remembered that this would mean light winds for the swim.
I arrived at the finish line at the Belmont Skiff club to find the others had just arrived. I used to sail at this club when I was a child, and while there were substantial changes there was also a lot that was the same. We decided to catch the first ferry over to the start line at Coal Point. I explained to the others who had not swum this race before that it was a straight line back to the Skiff club and all you have to do is swim towards the sun and follow the markers. They were worried about sharks which surprised me as they all would swim in the ocean without a worry. I assured them that since the lake was closed to commercial fishing some time ago there was plenty of bait fish to keep any large predators happy. I also told them that I had never seen a shark in the lake despite spending twenty years sailing on it or swimming in it. Not sure if that allayed their fears. I also told them the water would be warm and saltier than the ocean which should help with buoyancy.
The ferry ride over was fast and smooth and there was no wind at all. My biggest fear was a head wind on the swim back, and at this stage it looked like that there would only be a light one to deal with.
For the first time this swim had timing tags, and wave starts. I was in the second wave for the in water start. We were told that we had five minutes between waves, but as we waded in to get a position the gun started. Oh well.
The idea with this swim was to find swimmers who were headed in the right direction and you could keep up with. My plan for the face was to swim comfortably until the 2.5 km mark, and then increase the pace. This year there were big blue markers at the 1km, 2km and 3 km marks with distance written on them; and smaller buoys every 500m in between.
I was swimming comfortably in the warm water and keeping up with other swimmers with some ease. When i arrived at the 2.5 km mark I followed my plan. By this time the wind had strengthened and there was a small chop to deal with. By this stage I was envious of those swimmers who had a kayaker to guide them, not only for the navigation, but also for the drag. I still felt quite strong in the water and swam faster, trying to catch some of those in front of me.
I crossed the finish line wondering if I would go faster than my planned 65 minutes. I was surprised to see that my time was just over 71 minutes some seven minutes slower than my previous attempt. Then I realised that I was not puffed at all, so that told me I had not swum hard enough, but had taken it quite easy. Oh well I could put that down to experience on how to pace yourself.
My time put me in the top 45% of the 250 entrants. I had managed to swim faster than Karl, Shayne and Katarina with Gordon beating me. This was in line with our relative abilities.
We went to the presentation, which was fun as I knew a lot of the place getters in the various age groups.
For the month of February alone I had swum in seven races. Not bad for someone who had only swum six all of last season.