Finally a little write up from The Big Dog Swim last Thursday near Reading. I had the afternoon off work instead of my usual Thursday morning and picked Mr W up from work to drive down to the swim. It was a nice relaxed atmosphere with about 75 people competing over two distances, 1500m and 3.8k.
I was familiar with the lake, having used it for my 10k training in 2010. It is quite small, with a 750m loop, so we were required to swim 5 laps with a little bit extra. Unfortunately, we swam 50m down from the finish for the little bit extra, whilst the 1500m swimmers started at the finish line. This meant that shortly after starting the race, there was a bit of rough and tumble as you tried to negotiate some rather slower swimmers. I felt that I set out strongly, and couldn't see too many white caps (3.8k distance) in front of me. Unfortunately, I was really very tired and by lap 2 I was already flagging. With so many laps to do (another company who runs 3.8k swims does 3 laps...) it was slightly mentally frustrating too to think that I had to finish this one and go around another 3 times. It was very tempting to get out after 1500m and call it a day, writing off the experience to poor planning and insufficient recovery. But I do have stamina and perserverence (or perhaps sheer bloody mindedness), so I kept swimming and by lap 4 I had revived a little. At one point I tried drafting off another white cap, but he was swimming faster and less straight than me so we kept playing leap frog. Eventually I got nearly to the end, and put my head down and tried to sprint with whatever I had left. Which wasn't much. It was a deep water finish and I struggled a little to see where I needed to stop without losing speed, but I got there.
Time was 1:04:10.
Although I was a little underwhelmed by my time, it was good enough for 6th overall and 2nd woman (the race was in fact won by a woman in just over 55 minutes!). I think given that I don't usually race in the evening, and that I was still recovering from the triathlon, the 1500m swim, and probably the 14k from 10 days before, it was a reasonable result.
I do enjoy swimming the 3.8k distance and I hope I can still find a few opportunities for it next year, but I definitely need to balance my race calendar a little better.