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Washington's Crossing - Swim

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Alexandria, Virginia
United States
WaveOne Swimming
73F / 23C
Total Time = 43m 8s
Overall Rank = 72/126
Age Group = 18-99
Age Group Rank = 28/55
Pre-race routine:

Made the drive to Alexandria Saturday afternoon with my pal Hope, checked into the hotel, then we drove to the race site across the river at National Harbor. I wanted to be familiar with where we were going in the morning. We checked out the waterfront, saw some ADORABLE tiny ducklings swimming with their parents and dodging the swan and dragon boats.

This was our first time at National Harbor, so we walked around a bit checking things out. We decided to have supper here since there were so many options. I selected an Italian restaurant that had outdoor seating and we could see the setting sun, water, and enjoy the Air Force band as it played in the performance area. Nice, right? It was for a short duration, then the band finished and we heard 'beeep, beeep, beeep' - the equipment trucks for the band backing up. They ended up stopping right in front of us, blocking our nice sunset/water view, plus they kept the trucks running the entire time. Ack! Oh well.

We contemplated going on the huge Ferris wheel but opted out because it was getting late so we headed back to the other side of the Potomac. Back at the hotel I bought a yogurt/fruit/granola for breakfast since I foolishly forgot to pack some from home then we settled in our comfortable room for the night. Overall I slept better than sometimes prior to a race.

I think I set my alarm for 5 or 5:15 am so we could leave around 6. Went to eat my yogurt and discovered that the fruit was moldy (ick!) so I just ate the granola and yogurt. We had zero traffic or navigation issues and got a great place to park. We looked around for where registration might be and saw nothing, nada. Hmm. Looking around some more, we spotted a couple who had a swimmer-y vibe about them so I walked up and asked if they were doing the swim and if they knew where to go/what to do. Hope was concerned with more pressing issues, like where to get coffee! They didn't know about registration, either, but to Hope's delight, walked us to the nearby Starbuck's.

At Starbuck's I saw a woman wearing a 'Swim Guide' (or something like that) shirt and asked her about registration. She had answers for me so we sat a bit while Hope enjoyed her brew and a bite to eat.

When it was close to the time when registration was to begin, we walked to the pier and got in line. It was there that I spotted Laura from BT, yay!! We chatted a bit then found Jen from BT, more yay!! We checked out a 'pirate ship' that was docked nearby and we decided to make its name, Relentless, our mantra for the day. I went to the car to drop off my shirt and grab my swim bag. It was all a very low key event which I liked, I just wasn't sure what to expect.

Ate a Stinger cracker bar before boarding the water taxi to head to the VA side.
Event warmup:

Not really a warm up, just a ferry ride to the other side. Along the way we saw 2 ospreys flying and one on a nest! This made my morning. :) Once we got to the drop off site, they had people form 2 lines to jump from the boat, one on the starboard side and one off the bow. I knew the bow would be higher but the starboard line was much longer and the RD was kind of pushing people to evenly pick spots, so we headed to the shorter bow line.

I was a bit nervous about the height of the jump as I've never been fond of jumping into water from high (or even high-ish) places. As my turn neared, my nerves increased but as I stepped up to the edge of the boat, I knew I had to just do it and not hold up the line by being a wuss, so I went for it. I held my goggles to my face and hit the water. It felt like I sank very deep. I had gotten a good snoot full of water despite my attempt to be pushing air out my nose but at least my goggles stayed in place. I surfaced and swam away from my landing spot to clear room for my friends and the other swimmers.

We treaded water a little until all swimmers were in the water, then I think there was a count down and for sure an air horn, we were off!
  • 00m
  • 2300 meters
  • / 100 meters

At the horn I immediately started swimming strong. There were people around me but I don't think I ever had any physical contact with anyone. The water was almost flat with very little waves. My original plan was to try to swim toward the first of 2 yellow buoys that marked the course but eventually I settled on swimming in the general direction of the other shore, keeping the Ferris wheel to my far right and also sighting off some bubble-shaped dome building. It was easier to see those items than the yellow buoys, especially since we were more or less swimming into the sun.

Initially I could see people around me and was generally following other swimmers. At some point I stopped seeing other people close to me but wasn't too concerned: it was a large body of water and relatively few people. I could feel the temperature change when I hit the deeper water of the channel, it felt good.

Somewhere just beyond midway, the wind picked up and created some chop. It definitely became a more rough swim but was still relatively OK. OK until I looked up to sight and I saw the huge, old Air Force One jet ahead of me. What?! How did that happen?! How did I get way downstream?! I immediately veered left to head back toward the Ferris wheel. It now seemed that I was swimming upstream in choppy water to get back to where I needed to be. There was a moment of concern - no one was around, no swimmers, no kayaks, no one. Does anyone know I'm down here? What if I can't make it back to the Ferris wheel and the finish? I didn't panic but my thoughts raced a bit.

I started swimming harder/faster, thinking that was the only way I was going to get back to where I needed to be. Time to be relentless, like the pirate ship! Initially my perception was that I wasn't making any headway. Argh, how am I going to get where I need to be?! More concern. More strong swimming. Finally I began to see a few other swimmers, and some of them to my right (downstream) and I thought, how did so many of us get way down here? But I felt better that I saw other people, period.

Little by little the Ferris wheel got closer. I now saw the pirate ship (Relentless!) and more swimmers and the orange finish area buoy. My concerns abated but I continued to swim strong, still thinking I was swimming against the current. I swam next to the pirate ship toward the ladder where people were exiting the water and finally became one of those people. As we approached the ladder in the water awaiting our turn to get out of the water, the RD was taking numbers I suppose to mark our time/finish place. Very unprecise (not a real word), but hey, that's OK.
What would you do differently?:

I guess not much? It was surreal how I was completely convinced I went way off course but in fact followed, more or less, the arc recommended by the RD and the arc other swimmers swam as well. I didn't realize until I saw the Strava map that I was, in fact, completely on course and hadn't strayed downstream as far as I thought. I think it was the shifting perspective of the Ferris wheel/piers as the current moved me downstream.
Post race
Warm down:

Crawled up the ladder and saw Hope cheering as I surfaced. Sadly I was so out of it (my typical post-exercise state of being a bit less than sharp-witted) that I didn't notice she had donned her tutu and tiara as 'threatened'. She's the best. After I rinsed off under the shower and collected my 'I didn't drown' medal, as I dubbed it, I walked over to her and asked about Jen and Laura. She didn't think she saw them yet, so I grabbed my towel and we watched for their return.

After we were all reunited, we grabbed some photos, changed clothes, and then enjoyed brunch outside at one of the restaurants at the National Harbor. Bloody Mary for me, it came with BACON! BACON!! Fun times with good people!

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Nothing. If anything, thinking I was 'lost' downstream made me swim harder/faster, LOL!

Event comments:

I very much enjoyed this event, I suppose the challenge of it, swimming point to point. I've never done a point to point or non-lake swim event, so it was fun to try something new. I have done point to point, non-lake fun swims but none official/organized plus they were much shorter. **I take this back. I've done at least 5 triathlons in bays. Duh.

I'm looking forward to doing this event again in the future!

Last updated: 2019-04-30 12:00 AM
00:00:00 | 2300 meters | / 100meters
Age Group: 0/55
Overall: 0/126
Performance: Good
Suit: TYR swimsuit
Course: The Washington's Crossing is a race across the Potomac River beginning when swimmers board a Potomac Riverboat water taxi and cruise to the western point of the river where Alexandria, Virginia, Maryland and Washington DC intersect. From there, jump in the river, and begin the race with a water start. At the sound of the starting horn, swimmers will travel approximately 2.3 kilometers back on a well-marked course, to the National Harbor beach lagoon to be greeted by the sculpture, the Awakening.
Start type: Deep Water Plus: Shot
Water temp: 78F / 26C Current:
200M Perf. Good Remainder: Good
Breathing: Good Drafting:
Waves: Navigation:
Post race
Weight change: %
Mental exertion [1-5]
Physical exertion [1-5]
Good race? Yes
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time?
Lots of volunteers?
Plenty of drinks?
Post race activities:
Race evaluation [1-5] 4

2019-06-13 10:50 AM

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Subject: Washington's Crossing

2019-06-13 10:02 PM
in reply to: #5259828

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Denver, Colorado
Subject: RE: Washington's Crossing
Great story! It's so interesting how our perception goes crazy on the swim. I usually have an opposite problem, when I am very confident I am going the right direction, and am told I was completely way way away from the course...
Congrats on the strong finish and new experience!
2019-06-14 6:25 AM
in reply to: #5259828

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Subject: RE: Washington's Crossing

Congratulations on such a strong swim! I am always impressed by those of you who choose to do stand alone swim events. Really cool that you had such a big Manatee Meetup too! 

2019-06-19 1:08 PM
in reply to: #5259828

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Falls Church, Virginia
Subject: RE: Washington's Crossing
It was so nice to swim and brunch with you. And so weird that you weren't off course like you thought. The river certainly likes to show us who's boss, doesn't she? I hope we get to swim this one again.
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Washington's Crossing

Started by Atlantia
Views: 369 Posts: 9

2019-06-04 2:13 PM jmkizer