I have just finished my longest open water swimming competition in my life today – the DWB. The race was organised by the VRC (Victoria Recreation Club – known for paddling and open water swimming) and this was the 3rd year of the race (the first was in 2017). It was stated as a 5 km race by the organiser.
2 years ago, in 2017, when I saw that the cut-off time was 1 hour and 45 minutes, I thought that there was no way that I could make the cut off (in fact I got extremely angry when I saw the initial version of the flyer said that the race was “for advanced swimmer only”, and the cut off was 1 hour and 20 minutes – a 5 km swimming race is comparable to running a half-marathon where a respectable time for amateurs is 2 hours). This year, after a long consideration thinking if I would make the cut off or not, I signed up for it because of the following reasons:
- My predicted time for 5 km was very near to the cut-off – just a few minutes over 1 hour and 45 minutes, using the time in 3.7 km Middle Island race as the prediction basis.
- There was half a year between the Middle Island race and this race, and I might got some improvement between.
- I tried to measure the course on Google Map to see if it is really 5 km, and I found out that it is slightly less than 5 km. So it might be possible for me to complete the race within the cut-off.
Therefore I signed up for the competition by the end of March and aimed to finish it without being cut off, and tuned my training for that, including:
- more speed work in the pool (including some USRPT which I swam at a speed which was supposed to be unsustainable and repeated until failure)
- more long-distance OW training on weekend (including 13 km over 3 consecutive days on the weekend of Ching Ming Festival, and 11 km over 2 consecutive days on Easter, special thanks to Gary Lui for coaching me on my open water technique on these 2 weekends)
- A few sessions focusing on technique
However, in the last week before the race (i.e. on Easter), I hurt my right arm, with pain in the lower part of the deltoid. The pain started on Easter Monday morning (I did a 5.2 km high intensity long training swim on Easter Sunday), but lessened in the afternoon so I continued with my training with my coach Gary and swam 5.6 km at low to medium intensity, and on Tuesday morning the pain increased to the extent that I couldn’t use it at all so I had to cancel my squad training in the evening.
I didn’t know the exact cause of my injury because apart from my swimming, my motorcycle failed to start after the training on Easter Sunday and I had to push start it to ride it back to somewhere for maintenance after the holiday, but I had no experience for that so I tried for an hour and needed someone to help to successfully push start it. So I didn’t know whether the swimming of the act of pushing my motorcycle injured my arm.
I iced my arm for 2 days, and by Friday the pain basically disappeared that I could do my final squad training before the race. In other words, after the 2 long swims on Easter, I rested for 3 days, then did my final squad training at a relatively high intensity, and rested for the final day before the race.