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swimsuit addict

Lake Quassapaug swims

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Yesterday I drove with a couple of friends up to Lake Quassipaug in Connecticut (about 90 minutes northeast of the city) for a series of open-water races. It was a pleasant and easy trip up, and once we found the lake I marveled at how beautiful and peaceful it looked. During check-in I finally got to meet Sydned from the forums, who is as delightful and friendly a person as you will find. After check-in I hung out for a bit, had some sports drink, changed into my suit (my MIMS relay partner John and I both wore our matching fish-and-cupcake suits from that event), and got in the lake for a little warmup.

The water was clear, the bottom wasnt very mucky at all, and there were lots of palm-to-hand-sized fish swimming around in the shallows. Water temp was 73, and it felt great as I stroked out from the beach to the first buoys and back. I floated around for a bit looking at the cottages and trees around the lakes perimeter and feeling happy about getting to swim in such a beautiful setting. I was feeling very mellow, and actually a little unenthusiastic at that point about the idea of racingpart of me just wanted to swim happily in the lake without crowds around me, enjoy the scenery, and not worry about who could go faster. When I told Rondi this, she pointed out that I could always swim well out from the buoys to avoid being in a pack of swimmers, and that made me feel better.

After a little more swimming around I declared myself warmed up and headed towards the beach. The first race of the day was also the longest, a 3-miler (two clockwise loops around a -mile straightaway marked by 6 buoys, then a short finish around a dock and onto the beach). The race director called everyone into the water one-by-one, by name and number, sometimes with brief remarks. The race had 80-something swimmers, so this took a bit, but it was sweet, and since it was done for all 3 races of the day I ended up knowing a lot of my fellow swimmers by days end.

I didnt quite realize before the first race that wherever I was standing while others were making their way into the water would be where I was at the startI was assuming we would all go out further or something to line up for the gun. So at the start of this race I was more in the middle of the pack than Im used to, and was being tentative to boota bad combination. I got a little pummeled by those around me before I could work my way over to the edge side of the field. Once there it took me a ways to start feeling calm and content in the water, but once I did I started passing all those who had started the race so aggressivelyI think I passed about 20 swimmers on the first 3/4 mile straightaway, and was able to cut gradually into the turn buoy and make my way around it without having anyone right with me.

Once around the buoy, I passed a few more swimmers, then caught up with a couple of other women. I swam between them for a while, but was having more contact than was comfortable with the woman on my left. I couldnt go any further to the right, since there was a swimmer there, so I sped up to try and get clear of them. That got me past the swimmer on my right, but the girl on my left stayed with me. The buoys were on my right, though, and as we approached the next buoy I had to choose between being more forceful about making enough space for myself to avoid a buoy collision, or simply dropping back and putting myself on the other side of my companion. I chose the latter, and was more comfortable swimming out a little further from the line of buoys with my fellow swimmer on my breathing side.

Soon after that I was alarmed to come across a swimmer floating on his back right in our path. My new swim buddy swung out wide to avoid him, and I pulled up and switched to breaststroke to ask if he was ok. He was just adjusting his goggles. After he resumed swimming I drafted on him for a while, and we both got past the girl I had previously been swimming with. He was a fast swimmer, and got a little ahead of me, but at the end of the second straightaway he stayed very close in towards the buoy line instead of swinging out left towards the dock we had to turn around at, so I got ahead of him there.

The third straightaway was pretty uneventfulI could see a group of swimmers a ways ahead of me but couldnt catch up to them, so swam by myself most of the way. By this time I was feeling good and had gotten my enthusiasm for racing back. Towards the end of this stretch, though, I mistook the next-to-last buoy for the last one, and turned around too early. After a few strokes, I realized my mistake, confirmed it with a few strokes of backstroke, then reversed course. By that time the two girls and the guy I had passed on the second straightaway were once again ahead of me. I could see them all in a clump about 15 yards ahead of me, but they were headed to the wrong side of the turn-around buoy. They had to reverse course at the last minute, so by the time I rounded the buoy I was right on their feet.

Then I decided to swing well wide of the buoy line on my last straightawayno wrestling with anyone this time around! Plus I knew from my previous lap that the dock we had to round at the end was a little left of the buoy line anyway. On this last -mile stretch I was feeling good in the water, and able to just enjoy the sense of being in the beautiful lake on such a gloriously sunny day. I might have enjoyed this too much, and not paid enough attention to the buoy line, because I drifted out further than I intended. I could see the three swimmers who had been ahead of meI was swimming parallel with them, only 10 to 25 yards away, and I gradually passed them one by one as they separated from each other. As I neared the finish I had to work to get in closer to the dock, and I could see the lead swimmer from that group converging towards the same place from the other direction. I was ahead of him, but he had picked up the pace and it was clear that he was closing in on me. I had to switch to a six-beat kick for the final 200 yards or so of the race to hold him off, and then just barely. I was pretty spent once I was done.

With one race behind me I was now into the whole racing thing, and looking forward to the next onea 1.5-miler (just one loop of the course). There was time between the first two races for some food and stretching. (There was also free ART and chiropractic work available, but my body was feeling pretty good, and in the absence of any particular problem areas that needed attention I preferred my familiar stretch routine to letting strangers work on me). They also did raffles and awards between each race. I ended up first woman in my age group (actually second, but my friend Rondi got bumped out of the age-group awards because she was one of the top three overall). There was also a little intramural competition going on within our Brighton synchro squadsadly, the boys (John and Dave) ended up beating the girls (me and Rondi) on cumulative time, despite Rondis stellar performance.

As the next race approached I got in for a little warmup, chatted with some fellow swimmers, then it was time for the whole everyone-in-the-water-one-at-a-time drill. This time there were 130-something swimmers, and we entered the water numerically. I was number 8, so I had plenty of time to stand around in thigh-deep water chatting. There was definitely a sense of camaraderie among those of us who were back for our second race of the morning. I was also careful to position myself all the way to the left of the field, near the front. That way I only had to clear the 15 yards or so of laneline that marked the start chute before I could swing out left and avoid the crowd.

That strategy worked well. After the gun I didnt get trammeled, and I made my way gradually from the far left of the course towards the buoy line. As in the first race, I passed a ton of swimmers, but never felt boxed-in or crowded. On the way back I again swam wide, and was parallel with several swimmers for a while on the way back to shore. I thought I recognized Sydne at one point, and at the finished she confirmed that we had swum together for a ways on the back stretch. Sighting seemed difficult on the way backthere was some glare from the sun, and I kept on confusing orange vests or gear on the kayaks with the yellow/orange of the buoys. (It didnt help that my amber goggles make it difficult to distinguish yellow and orange). There was a bit of chop in this direction, and it seemed like there was a left-to-right currentI kept on having to readjust my line rightwards. (The lake is spring-fed, so its possible theres some current).

Towards the end it was clear that I wouldnt have anyone nearby to try to pass or hold off at the finish, so I just swam strong into the chute. It was nice not to have to kick or sprint in! I quickly went over to another part of the lake to warm down, then stayed in the lake a little bit to float around and watch fish. So beautiful!

Sometime during the race the event's wonderful volunteers had swapped the breakfast spread for a lunch spread. I had a hotdog and some pasta salad and watermelon. There was another raffles-and-results sessionthis time around I got second in my age-group, switching places with Sarah, whom I had barely edged out in the 3-miler. During the second half of the 1.5 race, when I was feeling tired on the way in and having difficulty sighting, I told myself that it could be my last race of the day if I wanted it to be, but once I finished and had some food and rest I very much wanted to do the last miler, to complete the 5-mile triple.

I barely had time to warm up before they started lining us up for the swim. This field was a little smaller, and there were some very young kids swimming it10 years or sowho were very cute. All but 2 of the buoys had been removed to make a shorter -mile out-and-back course. I lined up in the same lucky spot from the last race, and again made my way out smoothly and easily to the turn buoy.

I picked up the pace a bit after the turnI thought of this like a pool 800, and my goal was to negative-split it. After a bit I saw Dave stroking nearby, and we swam the last 250 yards or so of the race together. Once across the line I was happy for the day of racing to be done, but wanted to savor the lake a bit more before getting dressed. I swam and floated and watched the fish play, did some synchro, then got out and changed. We settled in for more raffles (I think everyone at the swim was a raffle winner of some sortlots of hats and watches from Timex were given out). Then they did final awards, and I won my age group again.

There were a lot of impressive swims for the dayyoung Abby Nunn from Virginia was the overall winner in every race by impressive margins, and set course records in two of the three. My AGUA teammate Karen Einsidler finished among the top-three women in every race, and was second woman overall in the cumulative 5-mile time. The race organizers did a great job on all frontsthe course was well marked and explained, things ran safely and smoothly, and the food was ample and delicious. This was just a super-friendly event, with the format providing ample opportunity for meeting and socializing with other swimmers. It was a delightful day, and Im glad I went!

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  1. pwb's Avatar
    I always thought that SoCal had the best open water racing events judging by the frequency and number of ocean swims, but I stand corrected. It's clear that the NY/near NYC area has the lock on variety and 'cool factor' for OW racing. I gotta make it out east more often.
  2. jaadams1's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by pwb
    I always thought that SoCal had the best open water racing events judging by the frequency and number of ocean swims, but I stand corrected. It's clear that the NY/near NYC area has the lock on variety and 'cool factor' for OW racing. I gotta make it out east more often.
    And the very good narration of the storyline makes it sound even more inviting as well!! Nice swimming!
  3. swimsuit addict's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by pwb
    I always thought that SoCal had the best open water racing events judging by the frequency and number of ocean swims, but I stand corrected. It's clear that the NY/near NYC area has the lock on variety and 'cool factor' for OW racing. I gotta make it out east more often.
    The opportunities for OW swimming in these parts have really expanded over the last decade. CIBBOWS first started hosting races about 6 or 7 years ago; now they reliably have several each season, and seem to add some new and exciting swim to the calendar every year. NYCSwim has also been very successful in adding events and drawing swimmers to the waters around Manhatttan. There's just more and more to choose from--I agree it's very cool!

    This is the 5th year that the Quassapaug swims have been held, and the first year I've made it up there, although I've wanted to go for awhile.

    And yes, you should come out here for some swims!
  4. swimsuit addict's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by jaadams1
    And the very good narration of the storyline makes it sound even more inviting as well!! Nice swimming!
    Thank you!