Monday, February 10, 2014

9km Cole Classic

So, as soon I got back to Sydney I started thinking about the 9km Cole Classic swim from Dee Why to Manly. This seemed out of reach for two reasons:
(1)   It requires you to have a support vessel (motorised boat of more than 3.8m); and
(2)   The entry form makes it appear as though you have to have done a 10km open water swim or a timed 10km pool swim;
neither of which seemed obtainable.

Whilst I had trained adequately for the double 5km swim I hadn’t trained adequately for the 9km. So I put the idea to one side. Until fates came a knockin’. Do not try this at home!
The 9km had been called off twice last year. They were keen for swimmers. So the organisers called Nick who had entered last year and let him know that swimmers of the same pace were now allowed to share a boat. Enter Fyso.
It turned out our previous 5km swims were enough to get us entered and SJ and husband Matt came to our rescue with the boat. I was keen to have a crack at the solo, but we had the option to convert to the duo if our respective injuries came to the fore.
Race day dawned utterly perfectly. Full of nervous excitement Fyso and I headed to Dee Why and meet fellow 4season swimmers Pete and Nick. Seriously great company on the start line.
Race start for 9km is a very slow affair. Normally everyone attacks the water as hard as possible. But for 9km everyone is conserving energy so only the young guns aiming for a place go hard. We head to the first buoy to meet our boat. No boat. We wait 10 minutes and then head to the second buoy off Long Reef. No boat. We hang with the jet ski and prepare to be told we have to swim in as it’s a strict race rule you have to have a boat. Somehow, miraculously, another boat comes to our rescue and agrees to crew us. At this point we’re 15 minutes behind the peloton and were already the slowest swimmers so the course sweeper can both crew us and pick up the buoys as we pass.
We are unbelievably stoked at our incredible luck but about another 1km in we realise this means no duo option and swimming 9km without any of our carefully planned hydration / nutrition.
Recalling Coach Kingy’s stern “HTFU” whenever I stood at the side of icebergs in the pre-dawn winter gloom I dug in for the long haul.
And what a haul it was. The water was glorious, the view stupendous, the real estate verging on the obscene as it verged onto the cliffs of the northern beaches. We cleared the Curl Curl buoy (half way) at about 1.5 hours and were between Curl Curl and Freshie when I realised we were flying not just swimming. The currents and tides were all in our favour. Our best case scenario was finishing at 11:09. (21 mins / km). The best case scenario was fast becoming a worst case scenario.
Come into the Freshwater buoy Fyso takes a longer line and all of a sudden we’re no longer going stroke for stroke. I make sure he’s in sight, enjoy the view with a bit of backstroke until we hit Queenscliff. I expected to hit the wall at 7km. Instead, I felt the best I had all swim. So I decided to buckle down and go for it. My stand in coach for Can Too that week, Victor Lee, had finally managed to teach me how to breathe properly, breathing into the pocket of air created by your bow wave during the week so I focussed on this and my stroke and put the hammer down.
At the last buoy we said goodbye to our fantastic boat, and the swimmer ahead of me decided to have his final feed. Sucker.
I crossed the line 3rd last in 2:51. 18 minutes ahead of my [very] stretch goal and an hour and nine minutes ahead of my “don’t get disqualified” goal. Fyso crosses 2 minutes later. We are both on cloud 9 (km swim).

Thanks to all of the amazing support. Including Cap’n Matt whose noble vessel failed to launch and the incredible boat who came to our rescue. And especially Fyso. 

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