View Full Version : Reston Swim

April 22nd, 2003, 04:04 PM
For the longest time I have said I will do an open water event after I have properly trained. I have come to realize that I will never be “properly trained” because I never seem to stay in the water. My friend said, “Just bullet sign up – I’m sure you will train then.” So I did, and I have began training, if anything from pure fear of failing. I have to admit it is very exiting and very, very challenging.

The event is the Jim McDonnell Lake Swim in Reston, VA, this May. If anyone has any experience and advice, I openly welcome it. Also, I have a question about a “cable swim” – what is it?

Thanks for the input, Wayner.

Rob Copeland
April 22nd, 2003, 04:42 PM
Wayner –

First before I go into what a cable swim is, I’m pretty sure the Reston swim is not a cable swim. It was in past years, but starting this year it is going to be a traditional Open Water course.

So if you are still interested, a cable swim is an open water swim where the course is marked by a floating cable stretched between 2 fixed points. Think of a ¼ mile long lane rope attached at each end to a telephone pole sunk into the lake. The swimmers swim up one side of the cable and back along the other. For a 2-mile race the swimmers would swim 4 laps around (8 lengths) the course. Typically cable swim courses are easier to navigate then open water courses, since you are able to see the lane rope, instead of needing to sight off a marker buoy.

Good Luck and have fun. The Reston folks put on a great race!

Leonard Jansen
April 23rd, 2003, 08:29 AM
The Reston swim ISN'T going to be a cable swim this year? If not, I hope they change the layout of the course. Otherwise it will look more like a demolition derby than a swim. Still, it is a very well run race. Nice people, good competition. Oh yes, don't stay at the Holiday Inn Express that is closest to the race course - the place is total bedlam and I got no sleep the night before the race the last time I did it.

Rob Copeland
April 23rd, 2003, 08:40 AM
Check out www.restonmasters.org for the race information and a satellite photo of the course.

They say “A new open water course is the centerpiece of the changes made for this year's event. We've thrown away the rope. The pictured course map is a concept of how the course will look. The exact location and number of buoys will be determined when we can get in the water in the spring. All participants will swim counterclockwise with buoys on the left and shoreline on the right as guides.

The new course and more efficient timing system enable us to offer a 1-mile swim in addition to the usual 2-mile.”

April 23rd, 2003, 12:42 PM
This Forum is great. I have gotten some very good feedback and learned alot from reading old posts.

Thanks for the explanation of the cable. It sounds like it would be a totally different strategy. I am actually amazed at the total differnce in what one venue can have let alone the different races. Open water is so much more than I ever thought it would be.

Also thanks for the Reston website, I had been looking at a different site for the race info. Luckily I still have time to register at the right place. There is *another* question I have now. Since a one and two mile event are offered now, would the one miler be better for a first ever event? I feel somewhat comfortable for the two mile - but I have only worked out in a pool.

Ya'll have a good one.


Leonard Jansen
April 23rd, 2003, 01:21 PM
The 1995 Reston 2 mile race was my very first open water race (or race of any kind) and I had only learned how to swim a year before. Someone dropped the metal foot of a picnic bench on my foot right before the race. I got a small fishhook in my foot while wading out to the in-water start. My goggles leaked throughout. I got my foot tangled up in a buoy rope. I got kicked so hard that I lowered the lake level by an inch due to the water I swallowed. So.... I'd say do the 2 mile if you feel you'd like it - you can't be any less prepared or have much worse luck than I did and I finished it. (Albeit SLOWLY).

Rob Copeland
April 23rd, 2003, 05:31 PM
Wayner –

As someone used to say “In for a penny in for a pound”. If your feel comfortable swimming the distance, go for the 2-miler!

The longer the race the more you can focus on and learn navigation and other open water tricks, instead of just getting into it and it’s time to finish.

April 24th, 2003, 10:50 AM
Thanks for the encouragement. Going with my gut (though slightly queezy), the two miler is the choice. I'm sending off the registration today.

Rob, the getting as much experience as you can idea, as brutal as it may be Leonard, is a very wise point. The Reston course looks like it is still well defined. It will be fun to be swimming in a lake and not chasing a boat that is drifting away. If any one else is planning on doing this event, let me know.

Again, thanks for the help, and ya'll have a good one.


May 23rd, 2003, 10:22 PM
Good luck to all!!! and thanks for all the help

Matt S
May 24th, 2003, 02:36 PM

I was on the organizing committee for that swim in 1999 and 2000. It will be well run (and you will be well fed, trust me, I ran the food table those 2 years), unless things have changed dramatically.

As far as the mob scene start, I do not know how it was done in 1995. But, the two years I was there, people were assigned to a "wave" of about 15 swimmers, fastest swimmers in the first wave, and the waves were started 30 seconds apart. The course managers would adjust your raw finishing time to your actual time, based on what wave you were in. This is a long winded way of saying the risk of getting run over at the Jim McDonald Swim is less than a typical open water race. (Besides, if you're a former water polo player, like me, you kind of enjoy the contact. Getting elbowed in the ribs kind of distracts you from your oxygen debt.)

A couple of tips for open water that no one has mentioned yet:
1) If you are nearsighted, get prescription goggles or wear contacts under regular goggles. You need to see to navigate. The first open water swim I did, I mistook a mooring buoy for a race marker (hey, they were both orange and they floated) and went about 200 yards off course before the life guard boat flagged me down.
2) Go out nice and easy the first half of the race, then if you have anything left, put the hammer down in the second half. You simply cannot keep up a level of O2 debt and lactate acid load in your body for 2 miles like you can for 400 or even 800 meters. Don't try. Take it easy the first half of the race.
3) On a similar theme to (2) above, spend your training time as much on improving stroke mechanics as on conditioning. The people who do well in open water have a long, efficient form that they could do "forever" and do not necessarily have a great level of conditioning that one needs to push hard in shorter, pool events.
4) [OK I lied about how many tips; sue me.] Don't let all the open water stories scare you. We tell them to each other for laughs afterwards (like flag football players yukking it up about how muddy the field was when they finished the game in a driving rainstorm). They were not as bad, or as significant in the course of the race as we try to make them sound, and they become part of the "fun" we fondly recall when we have finished.


May 27th, 2003, 09:28 PM
Kudos to The Reston Masters and Lin-Mark for making my entre into this sport an enjoyable one. All the participants were great too.