Swimming is not my forte. But I’m pleased to report that I’ve made leaps and bounds over the last year, which started from virtually no swimming ability. I could doggy paddle a couple of lengths and that’s about it! Sure, I am by no means a swimming machine, but I think it is safe to say my swimming levels are now sufficient to tackle the up and coming Taupo Ironman five weeks from now. Phew!
I have just completed the fourth race of the Stroke and Stride series and have put my newly found swimming confidence to use. Instead of waiting until the keen and eager athletes head off for the swim, I started at the same time. Although I wasn’t able to keep up with the majority of the swimmers, I was satisfied that I was able to cope with swimming amongst others.
I’ve also found that I am no longer fearful of not being able to see the bottom. I did a bit of googling and the closest phobia of this is Thalassophobia. Mind you, there’s a phobia for everything but I digress. Anyway, I now find myself no longer fearful of ocean swimming! I think my discomfort from not being able to see the bottom was masqueraded by low swimming confidence. Now I know that I can swim quite some distance without it being too taxing.
What better way to bolster my swimming confidence by: a) competing in an open water swimming event, and b) swimming a course in the same locality as the Ironman, and c) doing a distance further than what the Ironman entails? The answer is to do the 5 km Taupo Epic swim of course!
It was quite a way to drive from Auckland to Taupo and back (600 km!) just for a swim, but I was glad I did so. I completed the race in 1:45 which is slower than the average pace. Mind you, when you have the winner completing the course in an hour, you can sense that there were some seriously good swimmers out there.
The swim started at 8:15 am and it involved a two laps of a 2.5 km loop. I had some doubts as to whether I was able to last the distance, considering my longest open water swim race prior to this was 1 km (park of a Stroke and Stride race). I was also mindful of the cut off time of 2 hours, however, looking at previous results it looks like they were quite relaxed on enforcing this.
Nothing too much to report on today’s swim other than I made it! It was quite a pleasant swim. A few days prior to the race my colleagues were stirring me up by saying how cold Lake Taupo usually is. The water temperature on the day was around 18C, and is not too cold while in a wetsuit. The start, as expected, was quite nerve racking. Swimmers were everywhere! Fortunately it got quieter as the race went on, allowing me just to into my own zone and chip away at the 5 km swim.
For the entire swim you were able to see the bottom of the Lake. That’s because it is quite shallow along the course and Lake Taupo is crystal-clear. I was astounded how many golf balls lay on the lake’s seabed. These will be due to Taupo’s hole in one challenge. It has become somewhat iconic in Taupo and is almost a pre-requisite for any golfing enthusiast (or punter) who passes through Taupo to have a go.
All in all I enjoyed the swim. I am now certain that I’ll be able to complete the swim leg of the Ironman!