Race-Crashing

I had some spontaneous fun today… I snuck into the 1500 meter swim portion of the Antalya Olympic-distance triathlon today! Something I don’t think I could ever get away with back in my homeland.

I came down to meet up with some new Antalya swimmer friends before the start of their heat in the triathlon. I had intended to do my own swim before their race then hang out as they got ready. But as it was I got talking, and then went to the waters edge to jump in when they were warming up, then next thing I know I am being invited by my friend to just join the crowd gathered at the start line. I was not quite sure I could crash the party so I actually waited about 30 seconds to just make sure I wouldn’t get scolded or pulled by some official or by the boats. This gave me a moment to watch how the pack was distributing toward the first buoy 250 meters out. I was confident most would burn out in these waves quickly. I doubt many of the athletes today get to train in the open-water, let alone in these kind of conditions. No one seemed to care about me so I dove in, dailed in my stroke to the waves, quickly caught up and started sliding my forward.

It was very rough conditions for Antalya swimming. It was warm and sunny but the wind from the sea was pushing up 1m swells and chaotic chop which made taking a breath quite a gamble. The 2 loops around the triangle course took us straight out with the swells hitting the right shoulder pushing at an awkward angle, then turn right to swim with the swells hitting from the left side and just in front, then turning right again to close the triangle only to have the swells scoop up the legs and shove us to the right. With these swell vectors it was a challenge to stay on course between the giant yellow buoy balls placed about 250 meters apart- especially with the swells at the tail. To hold course swimmers have to stroke at an angle that runs against intuition. I hit the third buoy ok the first time, but was surprised to find myself off by 15 meters as I got near the finish. I took note of this and will do some more practice on  steering heavy-swells from various angles.

I am familiar with this kind of water and I practice in it often enough so swallowing some saltwater here and there was not discomforting and I was fine in my balance- but I also had the advantage of having no pressure on me whatsoever. I wasn’t ‘racing’! I was relaxed and I think I was near the front swimmers when I pulled out of the water down from the exit point. I was just there to explore the course, the swimmers, and the safety crews. I used it as an exercise to hold calm in the midst of chaos. I enjoyed the challenge of practicing ‘firm relaxation’ while the waves tried to twist my body out of form and threaten to steal each breath.

I sat on the shore and got to kick back while everyone else hopped on the bike to carry on. This is another case where I get to enjoy a perk of laid-back Mediterranean culture.

Come swim with us!

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