It's been a while since I raced a 1500m open water swim - a year to be exact. I wasn't expecting anything of myself bearing in mind the busy season I have had, but it went a lot better than I thought it would.
The day started in the early hours of the morning with an hour and a half drive to get to the competition. After registering, it was a waiting game for the start time of 9am. With the lake being a comfortable 18 degrees Celcius, many people swam the various distances within the competition without a wetsuit, but seeing as though it was a long distance and quite choppy out there, I preferred to play it safe and swim with my wetsuit on.
The start was a run-in from the beach into the choppy waters of Grafham Lake. The waves didn't help with the usual battle of arms and legs, but once the initial rush at the start of a race was over, everybody fell into a good rhythm.
I was up the front in no time with a couple of hardened male swimmers in green hats (5250m) and a male and female in my distance who wore blue hats.
Although I felt like I slowed down on the second lap, my times were surprisingly equal across the two loops. I felt good when I exited the water, but I didn't realise until I got home later that day that I had beaten my previous 1500m PB by a massive 5 minutes! I was 1st in my U20 age group, 2nd female (she was drafting me the whole race and just came past me on the last 20 metres to pip me to the line!)
I think its becoming a tradition now; swim at Grafham Lake and then cycle home (only 130k door to door!) as this has been the second time I have done that ... and I can categorically state that it doesn't get any easier!
Last time I did that ride, I made the mistake of missing any breaks and carrying on for the whole journey without food. Not my brightest idea ever! This time, however, we had a short break every 25 miles to allow us time to re-energise (lots of cake!) and prepare ourselves for the road ahead. This definitely helped.
6 hours it took us and around 130k of very undulating countryside and through some heavy downpours but it was lovely to get out on my bike again - however I am really feeling the DOMS today!