Sarah’s spin cycle in the Seine

Open Swim Stars 2km – June 18th 2017

Race reporter Sarah

Having picked up my bonnet and bag o’ swag the day before, it took all of 1 minute to show the bonnet, get marked with my race number, and pick up my timing chip. 

Since I had overlooked the (rather obvious) fact that there’s no transition to set up for a swim race, I had an hour to kill before the race briefing at 10:30. Not ideal as I was very nervous: in the days leading up I became increasingly convinced every single other participant would be an aspiring Manaudou, and they would all take off like a school of fish while I would be left to plod solo to the finish line.

So headed away from the village nageurs and distracted myself by taking pics. Saw the 1k race go by and felt more reassured that I would not be the only slow swimmer in my race.
The water was the most appealing-looking of the races I’d done in the Ile de France: a nice greeny-blue, and for once not completely opaque. Only visible debris were some floating hunks of baguette.
Many pics later and wetsuit finally on, we had 5 minutes of warmup in the starting area. Lots more people than for the 1k. Everyone was treading water and shaking off slimy green plantlife from hands. Flora notwithstanding, the water was comfortable (nearly 24C!), the sun was out, there was a gentle breeze and the course could not be easier to follow. As usual, my nervousness died away while treading and began enjoying myself.
Unlike with the triathlons I’ve done here, we had a proper, anticipation-building countdown to the start.
And then I got sucked into the washing machine. A heavy-duty washing machine, the kind for really large loads. We went under pedestrian bridge in a flash. Next thing I knew it was around the first turn. It was like-salmon-swimming-upstream (à la Enghien XS) between the two turning buoys, then resumed normal swimming/writhing for the next 500m. The “water-polo” drills sure came in handy. 
As I approached the turn for the 2nd loop I was feeling the effects of adrenaline and battling flailing limbs: really was NOT relishing doing another 1k. But I promised Karen I’d write something up and wasn’t keen to write about a DNF, so plowed on.
And into the 2nd kilometer….the water wrestling continued. Seriously – when is this going to let up? This is where I was grateful for the wetsuit since it made it easier to writhe around and past people. Around 1300m into the race there was finally more breathing room. And breathing is what I sorely needed by this point. Had to take lots of BSBs (Breast-Stroke Breaks), and convinced myself I was doing interval training.
The one disadvantage with fewer people is I now had an unobstructed view of the bottom. I spotted some very alien-looking plant life. It was good motivation to look ahead and swim faster.
As we passed under the pedestrian bridge in the final 300m, I could now hear cheering coming down from the bridge, and truly crazed, Tour-de-France mountain-stage level of cheering from the quai. It came at the perfect moment as by that point all I wanted to do was to leisurely breaststroke to finish line, but who can breaststroke past rabid crowds?
So in the end, in spite all the maneuvering, water-polo swimming, and embarrassing number of BSBs, I finished in 44’15”. For me, it’s an open-water personal best, so thanks to Coaches Bertrand and Aytug for feedback on my catch. Practicing those helped me shave of 30″ from my 100m pace in a few weeks! \o/