It is only 4 days to my next race, Cold Half, which will be my 2nd marathon swimming race in my life. This has been my goal race from the very beginning when I started swimming seriously at the end of 2018. At that time I set up my goal to become a marathon swimmer by March 2020, which I planned to do this as my 1st race. However I did the Lake Geneva Classic in July 2019 which became my 1st race instead, so this will become my 2nd race.
This is the most important swimming race for me because I can see if I am ready to start my preparation on my ultimate dream channel swim. The race is about 14 km which I expect to complete in around 5.5 hours, with ocean currents and possibly rough seas, and it may be cold as well (in 2018 it was only 15°C when the race was held). Therefore if I can complete the race I can reasonably believe that I can get over the channel swimming qualification requirement (6 hours swimming under 16°C) and start to train for my dream swim. However, I’m now a bit disappointed because the race is held relatively early in the season (mid-January) which the expected sea temperature is about 18°C, and as time went on, the weather remained warm despite the cold patch in early December, which makes the sea still at 19 – 20°C in the week before the race, and now I expect 19 – 20°C on race day, not much different than the temperature when I did the Lake Geneva Classic last year in 20 – 22°C. The expected warm temperature now makes the race useless for channel training.
My training for this race is similar to what I did last time for the Lake Geneva Classic. Before the Classic, I averaged about 16 km / week in May and June, swimming about 5 – 6 times a week (with at least 2 complete rest days – I did double sessions on some of the days) with about 1/3 to 1/2 in OW. My longest training swim before that was a 8.9 km swim with my support paddler to practice our cooperation, followed by another 2.7 km swim the next day afterwards. I completed that race but not in a good time – I admitted that my long training was not enough, and the training was more appropriate for a 10 km race instead.
For this race, I built up my training amount gradually from just about 9 – 10 km / week in July and August after my previous race, to about 13 km / week in September and October, then 17 km / week in November, and finally 21 km / week in December. However I now swim at most 5 times / week, but my training sessions are much longer, with most sessions more than 3 km, and some 5 – 7 km sessions as well, compared to a lot of 2 – 3 km or even less sessions in May and June. The longest training swim I have done is 10.9 km in late December, and I also did a 7.4 km training swim in the same month as well, mostly in 20°C sea so I believe I’m much more prepared now than my last race.
Moreover, this race course is not new to me – I did it last October in a relay with my support paddler in this race as well so I can continue to build up from my prior experience on the same race course.
However, there is a thing missing in my training. I couldn’t have a training swim with my support paddler in this season because he was not free for the whole period between I signed up for the race and the race day, so we have to rely on the limited experience from the training swims in April and May last year.
The start list has been announced. There will be GPS tracking in this year’s race as well. There will be 17 solos and 10 relay teams on the full course, some of them are highly-experienced veteran marathon swimmers (sorted by race number):
- Edie Hu 🇺🇸: 2018 round Hong Kong swimmer, done this race multiple times
- Ranie Pearce 🇺🇸: Triple Crown swimmer (English, Catalina, round Manhattan), 3/O7, Lake Tahoe, and much more
- Georgia Wells 🇺🇸: Santa Barbara Channel swimmer
- Julie Newton 🇺🇸: Catalina Channel swimmer, done this race multiple times
- Rodger Delehanty 🇮🇪: Santa Barbara Channel swimmer
- Robin Johnson 🇯🇪: Jersey – France record holder
- Simon Holliday 🇬🇧: English Channel swimmer, 2017 round Hong Kong swimmer, done this race multiple times
A lot of competitors in the race are regular open water swimmers in Hong Kong who I know well, swimming every Saturday or Sunday, and some are in the same triathlon club as me, Tritons Triathlon Club as well. Some of them are preparing for even longer races such as Rottnest Channel Swim afterwards.
There will be 6 competitors in my category (male non-wetsuit), which mean the competition will be fierce, unlike some of the previous years where there was only 1 in this category. I hope that I can complete in a good time without being the last to finish. After this race I will consider my further plan, whether to further develop my long-distance marathon swimming, or to give up and return to 10 km racing.
Check out my progress on the live tracking, and if you are racing either the Cold Half full course or the 1.5 km Cold Plunge, see you in Deep Water Bay!