Saturday, August 4, 2018

Lake Moomaw Open Water Swim

Today I did my first ever open water swim race - the kind withOUT the biking and running afterward! It was at Lake Moomaw, site of the Bath County Triathlon, but it was held in a different area of the lake, near the Gathright Dam. 

I went with my long-time friend Clare (the chief instigator of this outing) and fellow Master's swimmer Dave (also a LBS owner). 

I figured the 1-mile swim would be a good tuneup for AGNC next weekend and just something fun and different to do. And it sure was!

Packing was freakishly easy. It all fit in one string bag plus a bag of snacks/drinks. 

We checked in and headed to the water for a warm up. I did my usual procrastination and grimacing getting into the water even though it was in the high 70's and actually quite perfect. We got out for the race briefing by Race Director Dave Holland where we heard that the reason that the last turn buoy is attached to a kayak is because the lake is 120' deep there - near the dam. WHA???? I pushed that little factoid out of my brain quickly. I did like his analogy for which side of the buoys to hit - he said it's like driving in the US on the way out, but like driving in England as we come around the last one. Got it!

Here's what we swam and you can see the dam in the top right. It's a huge vertical drop to the Jackson River. 

Taken from the car - Lake Moomaw up top, Jackson River below

I hoped the dam would hold for our swim and I wouldn't get sucked down the river!!!! (LOL - but really, can you imagine?!)

Dave, Clare, and I reviewed what we each wanted to focus on for our swims. Our swim coach Judy had reminded me to keep my leading hand in the water till my other hand was past my shoulder (she has some better way of saying it) - basically don't resort to "windmilling". I would also think about sighting/swimming straight, good rotation and reach, and increasing my arm turnover.

We were called to line up in 7 waves of about 10 swimmers each, heading off from the beach start in 1 minute intervals. I was in wave 3. 

Our wave talked about not going out too fast and there was no scrum. It was very civilized! Off we went, what's to say? Once round the first buoy, we could finally spot the second, and then the third. On the way back we could pick any route provided we rounded that first buoy again on the way into the finish.

A few things I noticed about my own swim: I was tending to drift left a bit, I had to remind myself to sight more often, and I noticed the gap to the others in front of my widened after a turn so I need to learn to get quicker around the buoys. These are things I will think about next weekend at USA Triathlon Age Group Nationals.

I finished in 29:15 which seemed pretty good to me, but for reference, the winning time was 21:05 on the women's side and 22:06 on the men's!! (Results here)  The fastest swimmers were not necessarily the youngest either -- I saw the famous Shirley Loftus-Charley go off in the first wave, and at age 67 she swam it in 22:21!! 

I was pretty tickled to win my age group (there were 5 women in 50-54). Clare came in WAY under her goal time and Dave was faster than last year, so it was a good day for all. We are already talking about going next year!! Swimmers came from DC, Richmond, and even Philadelphia, and I can't help but think this race is going to GROW and GROW. I'd certainly encourage area tri and swim friends to consider doing it.

For more info, follow the Facebook page for the Lake Moomaw Open Water Swim