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Thread: Strong current against us

  1. #1
    Very Active Member miklcct's Avatar
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    Strong current against us

    Yesterday I did a race which turned out to be extremely hard for me. If I was more careful I wouldn't signed up at the first place. Here's the summary, the full race report is in my blog.

    The race was nearly 5 km. Last year someone with similar speed with me completed the race in around 1 hour and 40 minutes so I signed up despite it would be hot. However, when I looked at the marine forecast before the race, I found out that the current was against us most of the way at about 0.8 km/h! In the water I went easy in the sheltered bay until the turning point where the strong spring tide was against us.

    Then it started to become bloody hell. I started to increase my effort as planned, but the building next to me didn't seem to move at all. I further increased my effort until the absolute maximum that I can gave out, even more than my 1.5 km race effort (that segment against the strong tide was 1.8 km long and I expected 55 minutes considering the current), and the building started to move away, but that meant I had to keep that effort which I used for a 30-minute race for nearly a ****ing hour!

    I had to keep that maximum effort for as long as I could until I reach the choke point where the current diminished afterwards, which was the only sensible thing for me to do. If I slowed down even a bit I would be on the verge of being cut off. I even had to resist my temptation of stopping and getting my sports drink out at the planned time because I hadn't reached the choke point as planned in time. I couldn't complete that segment in 55 minutes as planned, but 70 minutes!!! For only 1.8 km!!!!!!!!!! When I finished the race I was so slow that the prize giving was done already, and I couldn't see my idol on stage who got the 3rd in his (and my) AG and 5th overall despite this was the first ever ocean OW race in his life (he was a pool swimmer specialising in 200 m and 400 m events 20 years before).

    After finishing, I heard that a lot of people were pulled in the race. I got the last place in the result list, barely passing the cut off point in time. The experience was so horrible that I didn't enjoy it at all, and I don't think I will sign up next time if it is still held on the same day of the lunar month.

    I would like to know the experience of the others when racing in a strong opposing current. Did you enjoy it or not? Or do you think if it is horrible like what I describe above?
    Michael Tsang - software developer & orienteer

    https://miklcct.com/

  2. #2
    Very Active Member flystorms's Avatar
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    Re: Strong current against us

    So here's the good news: You finished without being pulled. You didn't quit. You conquered the current finally. You learned something about the fun/challenges of OWS.
    You finished.

    Was this a point-to-point or laps? If it's laps, then you probably got a nice push on the return.

    Unless you're a pro, you should go into races with the mindset to compete against yourself and not compare yourself to others. During the race, it's great to try to hunt people down in front of you in order to push yourself, but you have to be aware of your race and your surroundings as best as you can. Currents are tough. You can get stuck in a band, like you did, and have to push through it. 20 feet over from you could be a much easier current that you just missed and didn't know. It's not easy. If the water is clear enough, you may be able to read some of the current by looking at the fish/plant life below and adjusting, but it's really hard. Or think about how close or far away you are from the land mass and think about the fluid dynamics as you get closer to the shoreline - sometimes the current gets worse as you get closer.

    Again, you finished, you weren't pulled, and you didn't quit. Consider this day a success.
    Kari Kennedy

  3. #3
    Very Active Member mjtyson's Avatar
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    Re: Strong current against us

    Everything fly says above. You finished. You didn't get pulled. You've mentioned before you have so few races near you, you shouldn't say "I wouldn't signed up at the first place." My God, even if you don't finish, it's experience you're getting.

    Just because on this day of the lunar month you had strong currents doesn't mean sh!t for next year. And next year you might be stronger. Hell, you were strong enough this year! So what if you had to swim hard for an hour?! Sometimes you gotta do that.

    I failed a 5K (a 5k!) last year due to currents. It was a loop course, requiring 5 if I remember correctly, and the current was brutal when swimming against it. But so what. I still swam hard and kept swimming, it turned out, even after they tried to pull me. (I didn't realize that's what they were telling me!)

    Tough love follows: Stop your whining and just swim. You succeeded. Be happy.
    --Mike Tyson (yes, my real name)

    https://blogs.marathonswimmers.org/ironmike/

  4. #4
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    Re: Strong current against us

    Reminds me of the saying: "What do you call the person who's last in their class in Medical School? Doctor." This was your first OWS, right? Fly and Mr Tyson are right: you finished! You learned some things about open water. Conditions change. Even a well-laid-out course can have a lot of variables. Tides, cold spots, a weather system 700 miles away pushing currents in different directions, plantlife, wildlife. When I swam early this season in a lake, we had an odd current from the fact that that lake is an impounded river flowing toward a spillway. Two ocean swims were unexpectedly colder than anticipated. (The organizers learned some things from that, too). Another swim was first rerouted due to shark activity, and THEN changed venues entirely due to an incoming hurricane! But people still signed up and swam and challenged themselves.

    Like Fly said, and one of my friends pointed out, a few feet in either direction can change conditions and distance. It just happens, which is part of the fun of open water. Go out, swim more, try another race and see what happens.

  5. #5
    Very Active Member miklcct's Avatar
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    Re: Strong current against us

    Quote Originally Posted by flystorms View Post
    So here's the good news: You finished without being pulled. You didn't quit. You conquered the current finally. You learned something about the fun/challenges of OWS.
    You finished.

    Was this a point-to-point or laps? If it's laps, then you probably got a nice push on the return.

    Unless you're a pro, you should go into races with the mindset to compete against yourself and not compare yourself to others. During the race, it's great to try to hunt people down in front of you in order to push yourself, but you have to be aware of your race and your surroundings as best as you can. Currents are tough. You can get stuck in a band, like you did, and have to push through it. 20 feet over from you could be a much easier current that you just missed and didn't know. It's not easy. If the water is clear enough, you may be able to read some of the current by looking at the fish/plant life below and adjusting, but it's really hard. Or think about how close or far away you are from the land mass and think about the fluid dynamics as you get closer to the shoreline - sometimes the current gets worse as you get closer.

    Again, you finished, you weren't pulled, and you didn't quit. Consider this day a success.
    The race is a point to point race. I grew up doing competitive sports all the way so I like to compete with others, and because there is so many variables in OWS, the only way to see improvement is to compare with others.

    I'm definitively not a tough person, but once in a race, I never give up until the cut off time. A DFL is still better than a DNF. However, it is so sad that my idol got the 3th in the AG and I couldn't arrive in time to see the prize giving (it wouldn't wait for everyone due to the venue) even he just started OW 2 months ago and this was his first OW race!

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