Despite my swimming background, I really dislike the swim leg of triathlon. I have a hard time dragging my butt to the pool, and when it comes to a race my performance is generally mediocre at best.
The solution to my swimming rut?
Open Water Happy Hour at National Harbor.
Wave One, the DC-area open water group, runs an hour-long swim every Thursday that is open to anyone who wants to attend. The fee is $25 per week, and the swims are fully supported with kayakers/lifeguards and coaching, if you want it. I’ve done workouts with Tammy and Denis, the directors, at Wilson and Tammy was doing pace work with anyone who wanted the instruction.
They set up a 200-ish meter square with buoys inside the marina where there’s no traffic or wake, which makes for really smooth water with easy sighting. And without the hysteria of a mass start at a race, you can get comfortable with turning, sighting and keeping your stroke steady.
This is great news for me, as one of my key challenges is not the swim itself but staying smooth for the full distance. I never panic about the water, the crowds or the waves, but my stroke tends to fall apart a bit when I get tired and I’m easily frustrated when this happens. Ditto when sighting is bad and I feel like I’m working harder than I need to in order to stay on track and move forward.
So — I’m going to be looking to get as much open water practice as possible because swimming a pool with lane lines and clear views is not the same thing as a lake or river. This is generally hard to do on weekdays because any real open water is an hour away (you can’t just jump in the Potomac, nor would you want to), but now I can substitute one of my pool workouts each week with the Wave One swim. Simulating tri conditions will motivate me to swim in a way Wilson never can. I’ll be well-prepared for Musselman and Wisconsin and actually enjoy the training along the way.
Anyone want to join in? I can promise it’s worth every penny of the $25 you spend. And there are plenty of post-swim food/beverage options steps away from the marina…