Wednesday, February 1, 2012

PD Swim-Bike-Run 2012, Instalment 1: The Swim

Folks! Here's the much anticipated report of the swim at the 1st PD Swim-Bike-Run held 28 Jan 2012. It's gonna have to be short this time.

If you recall, we were supposed to do loops of 500 m out and 500 m back. The plan was to have the anchor kayak paddle out 500 m and stay put while we swam to it. Thus we could do as many 1 km loops as we so desired. It's 'supposed' to look like Map 1 below...

Map 1: Grace & Kayak on 14 Jan 2012. 500 m out, 500 m back.

Why do I say 'supposed'? Because the Real Route the kayak took (Justin wore the Timex Global Trainer on his wrist) is Map 2 below:

Map 2: Justin & Kayak on 28 Jan 2012. About 1.4 km out, 1.4 km back.

My rough measurement based on the scale in Google Maps says the kayak went 1.4 km out and 1.4 km back. So for those of us who followed Justin's kayak to the furthest point that it went, we covered at least 2.8 km. Keep in mind that there was considerable drift of the kayak thanks to some impressive southward current. Eight minutes and 20 seconds after starting, Justin stopped at exactly 500 m. At Minute 16, he had drifted 250 m south. At Minute 25,  he had drifted another 250 m south. And at Minute 40, my little brother was halfway down the Straits of Melaka and heading rapidly towards the Pacific Ocean. :p .... Just kidding. At Minute 40, Justin was at the 1.4 km mark (or whereabouts). So you can roughly calculate your own distance swum if you did two loops - your 2nd loop would have been further...

Now before any of you start complaining about being tricked into doing more, let me show you the map of last October's swim where Coach Hafiz handled the kayak and made us hone our sighting skills by making his kayak a moving target:

Map 3: Coach Hafiz Salleh & Kayak in October 2011. 

Now aren't you glad you didn't have to do that? :)

Infinity Swim in the Straits of Melaka
Personally, I am very glad that I did this swim. I now know what a current feels like, and what it is like swimming against it. And I now have even more confidence in my Total Immersion swim than I had before. I have always been afraid of getting exhausted and drowning, but this swim has demonstrated to me that I can swim strongly for over an hour and not feel tired. The swim out was fast, aided by current, my 'lazy' slow TI stroke was enough. However, the swim back was different. After about 15 minutes of a slow tempo (about 1.3 sec per stroke), I looked up and realized that I had not moved forward. I was very surprised to find that I had been carried even further south by the current. I tried stroking harder with my arms to pull forward (conventional, not TI technique), but these skinny arms of mine got tired real quick.

Uhoh... panic time?

I switched back to using my core and hip rotation and focused on getting that perfect TI stroke. I upped my tempo (about 1 sec per stroke). And I started moving ahead of the current. Not blazing fast, but enough to get ahead. My feet touched the sand at about 1 hr 30 minutes. I can't begin to describe how exhilarated I felt. If you had told me a year ago that I would be swimming 3 km distances in open water, in a strong current, and not feeling tired, I would not have believed it. I think my effort was 2 or 3, i.e., conversational pace, based on how I have felt when on my long runs of up to 6 hours. If I could stay hydrated and eat on the swim like I do on my runs, I can see myself lasting a few hours in the water. You should see the huge smile on my face right now. No soreness the next day! :D

I know some of you did two laps. And of the 15 of you who started out, 3 did your first ever open water swim! Please give yourselves a well deserved pat on the back!!

Standing L-R: Syerol, KC, Koching (spelling?), Allan, Johny, Newton, Alp, Eldred, Janice, Matt, Dogbert
Mencangkung: Faith (kayaker), Agnes, Tiffany (kayaker), Grace, Justin (kayaker)
Not in pic: Tanti (the preparer of uber delicious world famous bihun goreng), Nik Raiha and Azizul.

After the swim, was the bike and run leg, which I'll blog about in my next post. In the meantime here are some pics of that wonderful outing:

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xo Gracie


  1. First Open water, first open road bike, first tri training.. Broke so many virginity"S" in one day.

    The way you describe bout your swim is so technical, all I remember is swim and swim.. the kayaks is so far away that I'm lazy to get myself hydrated...

    Worst thing is that my mouth felt like salted tongue after the swim

    1. Eldred, you are one crazy dude (in a good way!). Glad to witness your multiple 'deflowerings' that day haha.

  2. gracie,
    you should represent TI for malaysia :)
    i pickup TI from videos, yeah sure took a longer time trying to figure out on my own.

    may i know your drills to improve stroke count? thanks!
    i been trying to get it down which currently 20 ~ 22 strokes in 25m pool :(

    i look at shinji demo, 9 strokes! *phew* i think he already surpassed even terry!

    1. Haha FML :) ... Glad you like and follow TI too! I think it's commendable that you practised and picked up TI from Youtube videos. My bro-in-law did the same and has pretty good TI technique. Stroke count varies depending on individual (height & weight) and according to Coach Tang isn't the most important thing to focus on (although stroke count can drop as your technique gets better). Form is more important. I brought my stroke count down a few more just by improving on my breathing (head turn), and timing the two beat kick together with the arm spear. And it's currently 22 strokes for 25 m, which is okay for a featherweight like myself (45kg). Coach Saiful does 10 strokes for 25m.

    2. without a coach, stroke count becomes the only measurement to know if my form is improving at all! maybe should ask friend to video to see what's wrong :P

      btw, are u using the swim suit? does it helps alot in streamlining?

    3. Send me your video, I'll have a look at it :). What swim suit are you referring to - I don't know of swimsuits that help streamlining - wetsuits provide buoyancy that 'fix' the problem many swimmers (including myself) have of sinking legs.

    4. oh ok, actually i mean wetsuits :P
      thanks ... but ditched the video idea, too lazy besides only swim for leisure, so i guess no need to get that serious. i believe it will improve gradually overtime, i was like 30++ strokes when i first started!

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