20 mile weekend part 2: 6 mile race

Following my 14 mile training swim on Saturday, my mom and I headed up to Santa Barbara for 6 mile race on Sunday morning. We got to the beach around 7:45 in the morning and I stretched out and met my kayaker Greg. I warmed up and then we had a brief safety meeting before lining up at the water’s edge. The kayakers were out at the buoy waiting for us and the race director blew her whistle to signal the start of the race. I sprinted out to the buoy, staying ahead of most people but also knowing that I would pass some people later on because I have stamina but not easy sprint speed. I rounded the buoy at the end of the pier and met up with my kayaker before turning south and swimming parallel to shore. I was swimming with the shore to my left and the kayak to my right and it was fun to watch the shoreline pass by. Greg stopped me for the first feed and I was surprised how short the first half hour felt and also how smooth and strong I felt in the water.

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Course map.

After the first feed we realized that I kept drifting to my left so I switched to Greg’s other side so that he could stop me from turning to the left. This worked much better and we kept making progress along the course. I couldn’t see very many other swimmers but Greg had told me that I was probably in around 7th place with two people way ahead of me and a small group of people just ahead. I picked up my pace a little, hoping to get closer to the group ahead of me.

The water seemed flat and the kelp was lying flat, pointing south, meaning that the current was favorable. At the 1 hour feed Greg told me that we were about halfway and that I was looking strong. I was feeling powerful in the water, almost as if I had not swam 14 miles the previous day. My stroke had good rhythm and was flying through the salty water. Soon I was at the 3rd feed and Greg could see that I was feeling a little discouraged that I hadn’t yet caught the group ahead, so he told me to shoot for a personal best time on this course.

race track

My route from this weekend.

This encouragement revitalized me and I kept pushing forward. I was swimming over kelp now and when I sighted forward I could see the bluff at the finish. There two swimmers just ahead of me and I swam a little faster. I swam even with them and eventually passed them. I could see another swimmer off to my right just behind me, and although I couldn’t see who it was, I imagined that it was my friend Jessica. This motivated me to swim a

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Me and Jessica at the finish.

little faster even though I was finally feeling tired from the mileage of the weekend. I sprinted around the buoy and realized that it was Jessica just behind me. We raced each other into the beach and across the finish line. I finished in 2:13.38 and Jessica finished in 2:13.52, placing 6th and 7th overall and 3rd and 4th for women. It was so much fun to race my friend and a huge confidence builder to swim so much mileage within 36 hours and feel good doing it. I also finally got the chocolate chip pancakes I had dreamt about yesterday! A giant thank you to my mom for supporting me this weekend, I couldn’t have done it without you!

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