2 weeks to go for marathon swimming

2 weeks to go for marathon swimming

In November 2018, I discovered that there will be a cross-harbour race in Istanbul in July, in the weekend after Fin5 orienteering races which includes 2 WRE competitions. I signed up through a travel agency which I intended to be my first overseas swimming race in my life and do Fin5 before that. At that time, I had just started swim squad training for a month and the longest swimming race I had done was MMIC 3.7 km.

I signed up that race due to the following reasons:

  • The cross-harbour race in Hong Kong has a qualification requirement which I don’t think I can meet it (roughly about 27 minutes in the 1500 m time trial for my age group last year) so it is a good replacement, as both are mass-participation races in a harbour of a metropolitan city.
  • The longer 5 km races in Hong Kong have cut-offs which I didn’t think I could meet it at that time, so that race would be good for me to build up my distance.

However, at the beginning of this year, I set an ambitious goal for myself – to complete marathon swimming. As a year is considered a reasonable training duration for running a marathon, I believe that marathon swimming should be similar as well, and considering the race schedule in Hong Kong, I set the date to complete my goal to be March 2020.

I have written a plan to build up myself in order to do marathon swimming in a year. However, the plan has a major problem – my target race is Cold Half, which is 14 km long, and there are no races in Hong Kong which fill the gap between 5 km and 14 km, and the cross-harbour race in Istanbul (effectively 4 km due to current) has become too short for this purpose. Therefore I looked at various event calendars to see if there is another race at the appropriate distance (preferably around 8 – 10 km) I can do, on 13th July before Fin5. I found two suitable races on that day on UK Events Calendar, The Big Welsh Swim (9 km) in the UK and The Classic (13 km) in Switzerland. After consideration I’ve signed up The Classic despite it is longer than the target distance, because:

  • I read a race report about it and think it is good
  • Lake Geneva is beautiful
  • I like one-way race more than three-way race
  • 13 km is marathon swimming already – if done means I can achieve my goal half a year earlier than expected

Although the race is 13 km, it has a generous cut-off (7 hours), a lake swim should be easier than a rough ocean swim, and the expected temperature is perfect (20°C) for me, so I expect I can complete it without much difficulty as long as I can do the distance.

After returning from my previous Nordic trip, I started to ramp up my training further, mainly to build up my endurance such that I can reasonably complete 13 km. My weekly swimming amount has gone from 11 – 15 km, to 15 – 18 km, although I intend to go further to about 20 km in some weeks I’m too tired from my training already, as the weather is too hot such that I burn out much faster than usual. Because the pool is too hot that I can’t sustain long, I am doing more open water swimming now. In recent weeks I’m doing both the Saturday afternoon group and the Sunday morning group. Also I can now catch up the group doing 5 km on Sunday to Round Island which I couldn’t when I started a few months before. The longest training I have done is 9 km, which is about 2/3 of the race distance, and combined with another shorter swim in the next day nearly making up the race distance (12 km combined), I believe that I am ready for the distance.

Now it has been half a year since I set my ambitious goal to complete marathon swimming, and only 2 weeks before realising it, it’s nearly time to taper and do my final preparation for my second trip to Europe this year. I’m going to reduce my amount of training while keeping the same intensity, and make my mind out of swimming by preparing for my trip and orienteering afterwards, just like what I did before the DWB this year in April. The DWB was a big milestone in my progress, like runners doing their first half marathon, while the coming race will be a bigger milestone, like going from a half marathon to a full marathon. I hope I can really complete it and achieve my goal, 2 weeks from now.

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