06/02/12: Charles River Swim
by, June 2nd, 2012 at 08:35 PM (1522 Views)
I swam in the Charles River during the fourth one-mile event! Testing out that Dirty Water. Tomorrow we'll see if any strange skin conditions result!Dear Charles River Swimmers, the water quality looks great and we have received permission to hold the race tomorrow. Water temperature is 73 degrees.
The race started at 8am this morning, and I decided that I did not want to drive three hours this morning so I stayed overnight in Leominster at a Motel 6 right off route 2. I figured that I had an hour more to travel this morning, so I left at 5 and arrived at the Alewife T station just before 6 to catch the Red Line to Charles/MGH. I got off the train and walked to the Espanade , getting to the registration tent around 6:40am. Oh, did I mention that it was raining? Yep - steady drizzle with some stronger showers the whole morning.
I checked in and decided to repack my bag before checking it after getting marked up. I took off my sweats and put them into a plastic bag with, keeping only my warmup pants and jacket (and wet shoes) on. By 7:30, I was feeling cold as the wind picked up a bit, shivering and the like. At 7:45 we had our pre-race meeting, and I stripped down to my suit - the field was split roughly in half with folks wearing wetsuits and not, with me not wearing one. I donned my yellow cap marked "3" and headed to the dock with my fellow racers as the gray sky hung low above the skyline to this glorious city.
We all hopped in after being warned and enjoyed the warm water, although viability was not much farther than arms reach in the murky greenish water. After treading water at the start buoy for about a minute, the race was started as we took off west towards the Harvard (Mass Ave) Bridge. I noticed that my shoulders were tight, likely from not doing enough kinetic stretches before the event. After rounding the first buoy towards the Cambridge side of the river, we entered into the roughest chop on the course, powered by a steady wind coming out from the city center. The second buoy came much quicker, and after rounding that we made our way on towards the Longfellow Bridge. Here is where the taste of oil and gas entered into my senses, and I flipped over and swam backstroke for about twenty cycles. I was able to increase my stroke rate and catch a small group off the lead after the last buoy, and motored to the finish line."No diving into the water because we don't know what's in there - we don't want anyone landing headfirst into a shopping cart."
I am pleased with how I sighted the race, having only to make two major corrections throughout. I lift my head for a quick sight and rotate my head into a breath, usually every five or six arm cycles, until I get closer to a buoy. One of the things I love about OW swims the ability to watch as a mass of swimmers enters the water, and then take a peak during the race and see arms stroking just above the water. I didn't notice the water falling during the race, but the precipitation never let up. Maybe all of that acid rain helped to counterbalance the river water?
After the race I made my way back to the tents and sampled some of the vendor's treats before getting some coffee and bagel. Due to the rain there were very few spectators and the swimmers just packed up and headed out shortly after finishing. I walked back to the T with my wet warmups and dried off before going up to the station's platform, as my repacking kept my dry clothes mostly dry. I met some other swimmers (not too many other folks walking around with numbers on their skins) on the train back to the station, and we talked of the swim and our need for a very thorough shower! They laughed as the Harvard stop went by, opting out of joining the master's group there for their Saturday morning practice. I got off at Alewife and took the long, raining ride home.
So, how did I do? Not sure yet! I forgot my watch, and at the finish only our race numbers were shouted out to the timers. I checked with some of the folks I finished near, but they were fine with just getting to the end point. Once I get the info, I'll update this entry. As for now, I am happy that the event went off and I was able to take the plunge into the murky, I mean, mighty Charles. I would recommend this swim, as it was safe, well organized, and you can join me in 'going where humans should not go' (according to a friend).
*** Addendum: Results for the swim are up, and I finished in 23min 56sec. If you have the facebook you should be able to see my picture album here (nothing too exciting). ***
Just a friendly reminder to turn on your lights while driving in the rain for everyone's safety. Oh, let the little ducklings cross the road, too (I did this twice).