Monday, June 30, 2008

Gladstone Swim

One of the great things about my tri club is large number of organized open water swims during the week. My two favorites are the "Speed Circuit" swim on Wednesday mornings in Ocean Park and the "Gladstone" swim on Friday mornings in Pacific Palisades. Last year I alternated between the two every other week. I'm going to be entering into a swim focus segment of my training so I probably will go back to doing that or maybe attend both every week. I think doing two open water swims would be fine so long as I do at least two pool sets during the week were I can do drills and intervals.

Last Friday was my first time at the Gladstone swim for the year. It's called Gladstone because we all meet in the parking lot next to the Gladstones For Fish restaurant. It is smaller group of people and more low key than the masses that show up for the Wednesday swim, but these guys are all really talented. It's actually pretty intimidating because I'm so slow compared to all these guys. Most of these guys regularly podium, in fact one of the guys I met at this particular swim was the silver medalist in his age group at ITU worlds. Pretty impressive.

Last year we would just jump in one side of the small "bay" and swim across to the other side, regroup and then swim back. At least that's what everyone else would do. I usually only made it halfway before I could see them coming back and so I would quickly turn around so that I could finish my swim in a reasonable time. This time was different. The workout leaders are trying to be more inclusive of differing abilities and also people who wish to train for different distances, so they set up buoys at various distances and we could do various courses depending on our goals. I went with the "Olympic Distance" group. Here is a Google Earth picture of the two loops we did.
The first loop is in red. We went out to the first buoy, around to the second buoy, swam back to the beach and then ran back to the start. The second time we went out around the two buoys and then back to the first and then in. You can see that the first loop I overshot the buoys and was farther out. The second time I was in the middle of the pack and was in a better position.

These tracks were recorded in an i-gotU GPS data logger. I have been playing with this thing for a while and enjoying the cool bike course profiles in can create, but it really shines when tracking open water swimming. The device is really tiny and light so it can easily fit under your swim cap. It has a one button operation so you can turn it on and off while it is under your cap and it is sealed and water proof. As far as I know it is the only way to get a good handle of your speed and distance while swimming in open water.

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