It’s been a week since the race, but wow what a day. I could barely sleep the night before, I was so excited. I arranged for multiple swim friends to text me in the morning, just in case I slept in. But I didn’t. I was up early, coffee made, bagel toasted, bag packed.
The event was well organized, just as I remembered from swimming it two years previous. Picking up your timing chip was quick, and the announcer kept us up to speed on what was happening and where to be. Considering there were 590 swimmers at the start, a job very well done indeed. The waves were each identified by having swimmers wear different cap colours, so they had volunteers set up mannequin heads near the start, each wearing the differently coloured caps, and the idea was that you gathered near your colour and waited with your wave. Blue caps stood by the blue cap mannequin head, and so forth. The mannequin heads each wore googles as well, nice touch, nervously awaiting swimmers were quite amused. Sorry BOTB, I’m stealing one of your pics, on the left:
It certainly made lining up for the start easy, here’s a few pics of the swimmers lined up by wave/cap color. I get happy just thinking about it, drop whatever you’re doing, let’s go for a dip in the Ottawa River right now:
They tried a rolling start this year, which I think was quite successful. Swimmers lined up, as you can see from the pics above, and went into the water two at a time, allowing for a little clearance between swimmers so there was no jumping on top of one another. It was done quickly and efficiently, so much so that those of us in the swim angel heat (the last heat scheduled to go in) had to hustle to get down on the dock. The only exception to this was the first wave of elite swimmers, they were likely competing against one another, so they started together. Hey, if you can swim 3km in under 40 minutes, I sure as hell don’t want to be the one to get in your way! Here’s the elite wave start:
See the large number of boats in the water? They are lined up along the course, every 100m, each boat with a sign stating their distance along the course. Really helps those swimmers who like to know how far they have left to go. From the shore, the water looks fairly calm, but it was quite choppy out there, which I rather enjoyed, but I gather quite a few people did not. Fair enough!
At the finish, swimmers come into the Bitannia Yacht Club, reach a breakwater, and climb up a wide red ladder to get up onto the dock.
Here’s a pic of our swim angel lifeguard trainer, Chris, waiting on the breakwater for one of the angel swim partners to come in. You can barely make them out, between the two sets of kayaks in the water, an angel accompanying a visually impaired swimmer, the two of them tethered together. Pretty awesome, the entire swim done breaststroke, that’s determination:
So for the swim:
Being a swim angel was a great experience, and a lot of work. I swam beside Diane the entire time, my stroke lingering at each breath in her direction to see if I could spot any signs of trouble. For the most part, I stayed slightly ahead of her, about .5-1 foot. We came upon some congestion at the beginning, and seemed to read each other’s signals well – sometime I darted out to clear a path for her and she followed behind, sometimes I followed behind her through the congestion if she found a way to move through it more easily than me. Apart from some cramping, she had a great swim, and told me afterwards she felt reassured by having a swim angel partner, she wouldn’t have done it otherwise. Very well done indeed, great job! We met up with friends afterwards, sporting “Did You Swim Today” t-shirts. We’re too cool.
As for me, I was zonked by the time I got home. I put my head down for just a second and woke up 3 hours later. But I felt motivated, it helped me refocus on my own goals a bit, even though I was swimming for someone else. I’d do it again in a heartbeat.