Nanticoke Swim & Tri 2014

**And update 5/21/2014- we were emailed by the race directors to confirm our distances swum, and with those updates, I'm officially 3rd overall, 1st female, and still 1st in my age group.  I'm so excited!!  I can't wait to see what next year's race holds!  And I'm sure there will be different measures taken to ensure they get results right the first time.**
It's time once again for a Nanticoke River Swim!  (See here and here for the last two years I documented.)  This time, I convinced Becky to join me for the 3 mile!!  She said it would be a good training challenge, and a good goal to work towards.
Becky and I drove down together, (so of course I had her take some pictures...) and Tracy joined us for the ride!  We kept each other awake during the long drive to small-town Maryland, and headed over to the usual pavilion where we drop our stuff and wait for the race to start.  (Pictures taken driving over the Bay Bridge.  I'm sad I won't be swimming there this year!)
So it's cheaper to register before New Years, and I figured I'd do this race regardless, so I'd save the money.  Well...then winter continued for a really long time.  And we're still dutifully waiting for Spring to hang around for more than a few days, so the water temperature has been a worry for awhile.  We got an email a week before the race, alerting us that the water was 59 degrees, and the race was still on, so we should all be smart and prepared.  It triggered Becky renting a full-sleeve wetsuit online (since my offer for her to use my sleeveless wetsuit now seemed like a terrible idea), and several of my teammates ordering neoprene booties and caps to stay warm.
Luckily we had a few days of sunshine before the race and the water temperature actually climbed up to about 64.  5 degrees in this case makes a huge difference!  Becky and I were absolutely great in our full-sleeve wetsuits, and our numb toes gradually warmed up throughout the race.  Also it was sunny that day, so even with wind on the point, the sun helped a lot that day.
 The view I'm now used to.  Swim out the jetty, turn right into the large triangle, come back in.
The youth triathlon went first, a quick swim out and back for them, and a shorter version of the bike and run.  If these little guys could swim in that water, even without wetsuits, we certainly could!  Also, I love watching them every year, the adorableness is off the charts.
Pavilion full of swimmers getting wetsuits on and all that that entails.
Sisters so ready to swim 3 miles!
We still attempted to warm-up before the race.  It was good that we got over the shock of cold water going into our suits then, but I still certainly didn't warm up much compared to previous years.  We walked out of the water, then walked back into a different area so our timing chips would activate.  Becky said "see ya at the finish!" and we said good luck, and I headed to the front right area (the closest spot to the turn, so all the highly competitive swimmers start there) and she took a nice middle of the pack spot.  I started near my friend Geoff, who I've met at meets and these open water races, who assured me "I just want to finish...and beat you", hahahaha.

We had a short countdown, and then we were off!  It was kind of right at this start that I realized I had to swim 3 miles in cold choppy water.  Since I've done the race every year, I kind of didn't think much of it until then.  Oops.  No turning back now!

I fought my way, stroke for stroke with Geoff, to the front of the pack.  There were a few people ahead of me, but I was also ahead of a bunch of people.  We turned out past the rocks and started into the large triangle course that I would be seeing for the next hour-ish.  The first leg of the triangle we would be going against the current, so I was prepared to struggle.  What I didn't realize that we were moving with the wind and the waves, so we could ride the waves a bit and use them to our advantage.  This was definitely the easiest leg of the triangle, and I was glad we got to start off with it.

I turned at the buoy, and this second leg of the triangle was pretty terrible.  I was now swimming against wind and waves, and trying to compensate for a current trying to push me off course.  I would helplessly swim to the top of a wave then crash down the back of it and lose all forward momentum.  It wasn't easy, but at least I could see the buoys I was headed towards.

Which brings me to the third leg of the triangle.  I looked up and only saw the sun shining at me.  I didn't see any buoys ahead.  Two guys rounded the buoy with me, and we all stopped, just tried to sight while treading water.  They asked if I could see anything, I asked if they could see anything.  The answer was no all around.  A kayaker came by and asked what the problem was.  We said we couldn't see where we were headed.  He pointed the way, and the guys took off.  Umm, I was skeptical.  They still didn't see the buoy and were just arbitrarily headed somewhere.  I kept treading until I finally saw something, but it wasn't easy to keep my eye on anything.  Just as I was kind of losing hope, a swimmer comes up right alongside me, moving in a very sure direction.  It was Reg!  My trusty Australian teammate who kicks my butt half the time in these races!  I trusted his sighting, so I just stuck with him.  And sure enough, as soon as I looked up and could see a buoy, we were headed straight for it.  How did he...?!  Well anyways, we turned the buoy and I swam with him for a little before catching some waves and deciding to move along.  I don't know what I would have done without him!

I continued onto the second leg of the triangle, still getting tossed about, and then rounded into the third leg again.  I was on the home stretch, and the sun had risen enough that I could sight a little better and didn't feel so helpless.  I found a break in the treeline that I could head for and did really well staying on course.  And then one time I looked up (after I swear, only a few strokes) and was super off course.  How in the world did that happen?!  I was by this water mile-marker with an osprey nest on it and since the current has never been going this way for this race, I'd never been out this far before.  I must admit I panicked.  For how quickly I was pulled off track this must be a strong current, and I now needed to swim directly into it to get back to the jetty to swim in.  I even remember clearly thinking "you are doing the exact two things you shouldn't do when fighting a current- swimming directly into it, and freaking out."  But honestly, what else could I do if I wanted to finish this race?  So I put all my effort into getting into that jetty, since I knew once I was in there, the wind, waves and current wouldn't be a factor anymore.

I got into the protection of the rock walls and swam up as far as I could.  I stood up, ran up the beach and heard my timing chip "beep" and looked around.  I didn't see anyone.  I couldn't have won this thing, I knew that, but where was everyone?  Reg came up the beach within a minute of me, and asked if I had won.  I told him I didn't think so, but that I wasn't sure.

When the results were finally posted, I was in 15th.  I was still rather confused- I went 1:20, and the top time was 42 minutes.  What?!

This is why I've taken so long to post about this race.  The race directors realized some 3 milers must have stopped early and just swum the 2 mile race instead.  I'm down to 10th overall, but there are still some times that I seriously question ahead of me.  I would not like to belittle anyone, or somehow diminish their accomplishments if these times are correct, but I still doubt Reg and I were beaten by 30 minutes.  Just sayin...

**And update 5/21/2014- we were emailed by the race directors to confirm our distances swum, and with those updates, I'm officially 3rd overall, 1st female, and still 1st in my age group.  I'm so excited!!  I've gone from 3rd female, to 4th female, to 2nd female, to now 1st!  I can't wait to see what next year's race holds!  And I'm sure there will be different measures taken to ensure they get results right the first time.**

Anyways, Becky finished and was so so excited!  She kicked butt and managed to jump into our group photo (the first photo of the post) right as she finished!
There was a cookout, with beer this year!
And then Columbia Masters Swimming swept some awards.  Michelle got 3rd overall woman in the triathlon!  Tracy was 1st overall woman for the 2 mile swim.
Becky was 3rd overall in her age group, and I was 1st overall in the same age group, haha.  It's been awhile since we were competing against each other in swimming!
Bart was 3rd in his age group, and Reg and Jamie both won their age groups (though they didn't stick around for awards).
I'm still waiting for a few times to be confirmed from the race, but I think I'm at least 3rd overall woman in the 3 mile, if not better.  I wish there had been a better system, and we've gotten some emails saying that next year they will implement something to help sort everyone better.

I still had a great time, despite the threat of cold water, and then the wind and waves that actually got me.
I look forward to next year, swimming the race for a 5th year in a row.  I wonder who will join me!  Want to come play?

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