THE SWIM, a.k.a. "The Smack-fest"
I am one of those purple caps just above the kayaker's paddle.
As soon as the gun went off, things went from vertical to horizontal and I immediately got smacked in the head and kicked in the thigh and stomach. I could not put my head down in the water for fear of getting a swift kick in the face. I knew to expect this but it was much wilder than Cozumel or Arizona. I did some water polo freestyle swimming for at least 50 meters before I could put my face down in the water. I was not in panic mode. In fact, I was more panicked bobbing up and down and trying to keep my head above water before the start. Now I was in survival mode and "Get the F--K Out of MY WAY!!!" mode.
The course was not a straight line like was drawn on the course map. It snaked left, and then right, and back to the left before getting to the turn buoy. Because of that, some people were hugging the yellow buoy line while others were swimming straight out to the furthest yellow buoy they could see and trying to avoid the outcropping of shoreline on the right. That meant that people were swimming all over the place. It was a huge Cluster F--k. I got a little bit of clean water for about ten strokes and then I was made into a Coach Liz sandwich between two dudes in wetsuits. The water clarity was zero, so they may not have known I was even there, but they smacked me in the back of the head and the chin at least five or six times and kicked me in the side before I got pissed and swam over top of the dude on my right and got on his other side and took off again.
Just a lovely swim with 2600+ of your closest triathlon friends....
The weather was in our favor. The cloud cover kept the sun from shining in our eyes and blinding us. The water temp was about 78 so even though I was cold before the start, I was ok once I was moving. I was stunned by the number of people who decided to wear a wetsuit, but I am sure they wanted it more for the security of the flotation rather than warmth.
As soon as I got to the red turn buoy, I started getting smacked by the men in the green caps again. It was about 100 meters to the next red turn buoy and to start following the orange buoys back in. I was getting a little more clean water and then YOWZAA!!! I got some dude's hand up my crotch. "HEY! Get over here and let me grab something and see how you like it!" I took a breath to the right and was surprised how close I was to the shore line and I could see all the people standing on the grass watching us. Ok, time to swim in a bit. I thought I was in line but I forgot that the course snaked around. I felt like it took a long time to get to the canal.
Amazing that I can see these people's legs under the water. I could not see my hand in front of my face the entire way! Yep, the canal is that narrow.
Why was I in such a hurry to get to the canal? Well, it would mean that I was only 800 meters from the stairs to get out. It also would mean that 2600+ racers would be bottle necked down into a four foot deep and thirty foot wide smack-fest. The race director had warned everyone that if they needed to stand in the canal, they could, but not to walk along the bottom of the canal due to stray re bar, glass, and concrete. I did see a few people stand up. I felt like I was not making any progress in the canal. Each time I took a breath, I saw the same people on the shore and the sidewalk. I was groped, smacked around some more, and pulled totally under the water twice before I saw the red buoy at the end of the canal that marked the last turn to the stairs to get out of the water. I swam hard and pushed some dude out of the way to get up the stairs first.
The last red buoy to turn left and get to the stairs and out of the water.
My goal was to be out of the water in one hour and twenty minutes and when I looked down at my watch I saw 1:15 which was five minutes ahead of schedule. Yahoo! After that swim, YAHOO!!! Now it was time to transition.
Stay tuned for more!