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USMS 10k Open Water Swimming National Championships - SwimOther

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Clemson, South Carolina
United States
United States Masters Swimming
85F / 29C
Total Time = 2h 19m 43s
Overall Rank = 3/60
Age Group = 30-34
Age Group Rank = 1/2
Pre-race routine:

Every couple of years I self-select for an event or endeavor that’s quite honestly, just plain stupid. Stupid because I’m unprepared, stupid because of the shear idiocy of the event, stupid because there’s no logical reason I should be attempting it. The good news, I guess, is that I go into the event knowing full-well that I have no business doing it and need to act accordingly. So when a couple of friends from my Masters swimming team asked me if I wanted to do the 10k USMS National Champs, I thought to myself, “Hey, it’s a National Championship event, why not?” I paid no attention to the fact that these guys were Masters swimmers who train for one discipline. That’s quite different than an ex-swimmer-turned-triathlete who rarely breaks 10k for an entire WEEK of training, let alone a single effort.

Coming off of EagleMan the weekend before, I knew that at the very least I would have the aerobic engine to get through the race if I just didn’t do anything stupid like treat the beginning of the race like the beginning of a tri OWS where everybody floors it for the first 200 meters. There’s a big difference when you red line and you have 1900m left in a swim versus going anaerobic when you have another 9800m on your plate.

We arrived in Clemson around 7:30am after the 2-hour drive from Atlanta. After checking-in, we gathered additional information about feed zones (feed zones for swimming!??!), course route and water temps. With this information, I quickly made some key decisions. The water was 85° so I opted for wearing my new blueseventy Point Zero3+ speed suit. A little extra heat was well worth the potential minutes the suit my save me. I provided the 2.5k/7.5k feed boat two TriBerry GUs and stuck a 3rd “just in case” pack in my suit. Drew, Bill, David, Jason and I all headed down to the pre-race meeting ready to go. At the pre-race meeting there was one more critical piece of information that was provided: swim caps were required for the start of the race, but if they happened to come off during the race, there would be no penalties. The USMS official presiding over the meeting accompanied this nice tidbit with “So read between the lines on wearing your cap.”
Event warmup:

As for warm-up, hey, we had 10,000 meters to get warmed-up, so jumping into the water and swimming over to the in-water start would be warm-up for me.
  • 2h 19m 46s
  • 10000 meters
  • 01m 24s / 100 meters

Race: About 60 or so athletes jumped into the water for the in-water start. Armed with the pleasant news about the swim cap rule, I had my goggles underneath it, my ears stuck out Dumbo-style, and the cap propped on the crown of my head like a yarmulke. I lined up about 10m to the left of the start buoy, opting for a longer line but a cleaner starting point. We treaded water for about a minute and the official then began the :10 countdown. 3-2-1-BANG, we were off…and within two stroke cycles, so was my cap. Ahhhh, cooler already.

What is there to say about a 10k swim? It was a lot of swimming. I held true to my self-promise that I would not go out too hard. There was one swimmer who was out from the start, and I figured that either he would be away for the day or he would pay for the pace later in the race. Around the 2000m point of the first out segment, a group of three of us settled into an even-paced rhythm fairly side-by-side. I deduced I was probably swimming with true Masters swimmers, not triathletes, as their lines were a bit zig-zagged. As we can all attest to, sighting in open water is a bit more difficult than following the black line at the bottom of the pool. I had a feeling my compatriots in lunacy were pure-play swimmers by their semi-drunken paths.

When we hit the first feed boat at the 2500m turnaround, the three of us all happily grabbed some Gatorade, I exchanged a friendly “hello” with one of the triumvirate, a woman I recognized from her infrequent drop-ins at Emory Masters. The three of us headed back towards the start, a long 2500m away.

I’ll skip the boring details of segment 2500m-8500m because it’s more of the same – a lot of swimming, some thirst from the infrequent Gatorade/GU stops at 5k and 7500m. The first place leader had established a good lead, probably around 400m, so going into the final 2.5k segment we probably all knew that the podium would be decided by our group of three.

Around the 8500m mark, our group of three began to splinter. The woman and I put in a surge in pace, nothing too dramatic but enough just to see where everybody stood as we entered the last mile of the competition. We held the pace for a good 300m and soon the other gentleman in our trio dropped back. She and I kept driving towards each successive buoy, as the finish line now seemed imminent compared to where we were two hours ago.

I was hoping to get the race for 2nd down to the last 100m because I felt like my pure speed was better than hers. It was a fairly obvious tactic, so I hoped for the best because I knew that even with the slightest increases in pace, I would probably be cooked. The fatigue in my delts was increasing from the pace, and I knew it wouldn’t take much for the wheels to come off. Sure enough, the smart competitor next to me probably didn’t want to get it to a 100m sprint, so with a kilometer left, she shifted one more gear. I kept up with her for maybe 50 more meters and then began throwing haymakers – no elbow integrity, no turnover. I was cooked. Without the volume, I had no muscular endurance to get to the other gear without blowing up. Now I just had to hand on for 3rd.

Fortunately for me I was able to hold what form I had together to finish up in 3rd place. Two hours and 19 minutes after we started, I crossed under the Finish buoys and swam towards sweet land which was only 10m away. The race organizers had a ramp leading to shore from the lake, and I could see my wife, Elizabeth and daughter, Elle, waiting patiently for me. Elle could recognize her father even dressed like a frogman in his Point Zero3+, and she ran towards the lake to greet me. I picked her up, gave her a big squeeze and a kiss and headed towards Elizabeth to pass on some more family love. We dipped Elle in the lake for good measure – she was flush from the heat – and exchanged pleasantries and thanks. I had made it out of the water in one piece and with a solid time to boot. I had figured 1:30s/100m as a nice, safe pace and come out with 1:23s/100m – not too bad for a triathlete in a swim meet.

3rd overall and National Champ in 30-34 AG! Let’s be serious here about the result, though – not too many people are dumb enough to do something like this, so the field was pretty darn small. Been there, done that, don’t know if I have any more 6.2 mile swims in me, at least few if any that are done over one shot and not 3 Masters workouts.
Post race
Warm down:

3 Gatorades and chatting with my wife and daughter

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Limited swimming volume

Event comments:

Great volunteers and well-organized course. Probably could use a couple of more proactive feed stations.

Last updated: 2008-06-16 12:00 AM
02:19:46 | 10000 meters | 01m 24s / 100meters
Age Group: 1/2
Overall: 3/60
Suit: bluesevent Zero Point3+
Course: The course consisted of a semi-straight out-and-back line 2500m in length, lined with smaller buoys every 100m and a large buoy every 500m. At the 1000m point of the out (1500m of the back), there were 2 large buoys or a “gate” that you had the option of swimming in-between or else follow the rule of the course: keep all buoys on your right. We would swim 2 laps of the course, or 4x2500m line segments. Unlike most tri swim courses, this course was unique because you actually could spot your competition due to the out-and-back nature of the design.
Start type: Wade Plus: Shot
Water temp: 85F / 29C Current: Low
200M Perf. Good Remainder: Good
Breathing: Good Drafting: Below average
Waves: Navigation: Good
Rounding: Good
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Good
Mental exertion [1-5] 4
Physical exertion [1-5] 4
Good race? Yes
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? No
Post race activities: Good
Race evaluation [1-5] 4

2008-06-17 9:40 AM

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Atlanta, GA
Subject: USMS 10k Open Water Swimming National Championships

2008-06-17 9:48 AM
in reply to: #1471318

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the colony texas
Subject: RE: USMS 10k Open Water Swimming National Championships

uhh, WOW !!!!  that's more than I'll swim in a week,, again!!  I'm always amazed that they have events like this and more than 4 people show up..

really great job out there..

2008-06-17 9:49 AM
in reply to: #1471318

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Charlottesville, Virginia
Subject: RE: USMS 10k Open Water Swimming National Championships
Wow, great job! 
2008-06-17 12:35 PM
in reply to: #1471318

Subject: ...
This user's post has been ignored.
2008-06-17 12:58 PM
in reply to: #1471318

Central New York
Subject: RE: USMS 10k Open Water Swimming National Championships
1:23/100 in open (bath) water is pretty solid, especially at that distance. Way to rise to the (idiotic) challenge. That's gutsy stuff.
2008-06-17 1:06 PM
in reply to: #1471318

Reston, VA
Subject: RE: USMS 10k Open Water Swimming National Championships
Very nice swim and it sounds like a fun race!

2008-06-17 1:08 PM
in reply to: #1471318

Westminster, CO
Subject: RE: USMS 10k Open Water Swimming National Championships
I loved your race report!  I've been considering the lunacy of a 10k ows sometime - this was a great report to read!  Your effort and results are awesome!  Congrats!  What's next?
2008-06-17 1:15 PM
in reply to: #1471318

Extreme Veteran
West Chicago
Subject: RE: USMS 10k Open Water Swimming National Championships
way cool to read - inspiration for upcoming OWS's
2008-06-17 2:03 PM
in reply to: #1471318

Wye Mills, MD
Subject: RE: USMS 10k Open Water Swimming National Championships

Wow! Looks like you recovered well from Eagleman. Awesome race. That is just a silly fast time.
" the field was pretty darn small."  I think the Olympics is that way, too.  
Nice race report.

2008-06-17 2:30 PM
in reply to: #1471318

Lake Oswego, OR
Subject: RE: USMS 10k Open Water Swimming National Championships

Great race report and simply and incredible result.

I do long swims and sometimes hear myself saying that I do them because all the fast swimmers are smarter than me. That is simply no true! They are simply less crazy than I.

You swam against everyone who contested a National Championship and finished on the podium. You basically smoked the field except for 2 top swimmers. All I know is I'll be looking out for you at my next race. You are not racing the 5K OWS in Oregon this summer, are you? I was hoping for a good result.

 Great race.

2008-06-17 3:10 PM
in reply to: #1471318

Atlanta, GA
Subject: RE: USMS 10k Open Water Swimming National Championships
Many thanks to everybody for the encouraging words and well-wishes. It means a lot.

I know we all probably get a variation of the same questions of why we do what we do as it relates to these "feats of endurance". And I imagine at the very, very root of our answers - conscious or not - is some variation of the answer, "because it's there." I know this was one of those challenges for me. No more OWS out of region for me this summer and certainly not at that distance. If anybody's doing the 25k I would love to hear about it. I can't even get my head around that distance.

Thanks again to everybody and keep feeding your passions...


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