A distillation of open water experience
State is done, and the National Championship Open Water 10K will be at Applegate Lake on Saturday, July 14. You’ve said, “I’m going to swim the 10K.” Now what?
First, get a calendar, either paper or electronic. Put the Applegate Lake date on it. Go look at the “Events” list on the swimoregon.org website and scroll down to May. You will see two events that will help prepare you for the 10K.
The Lake Juniper Swim, 1200 meters in the Juniper Pool in Bend will be held on May 20. You’ll go around four buoys set in the corners of Juniper Pool 12 times, mimicking a crowded open water swim. You’ll get to practice swimming in a group and doing buoy turns. You can also come a day early and swim one of the rare long course meets in Oregon.
The other 10K practice event will be held at Amazon Pool in Eugene on Saturday, May 26, 2-6 PM. We will rent Amazon and swim the 5K and 10K ePostal events. Contact Matt Miller to reserve your spot. firstname.lastname@example.org or 636-209-8916. We can swim 16 people at one time. Bring a timer and sunblock.
The second thing to do to prepare for the Applegate 10K is to find a lake to swim in. Portland is lucky as they have two lakes they can use which are quite close. Lake Vancouver, across the Columbia, has a rowing course set up with buoys on a 2000 meter stretch. The big buoys are 500 meters apart. Use them to time splits. Stay out of the way of the sculls, of course.
There is also the Northwest Open Water Swim series at Hagg Lake in May, which is put on for triathletes, on four Tuesday nights in May. For info go to http://www.nwopenwaterswim.com. Hagg Lake will be the site for three open water events for triathletes, sponsored by the Portland Tri Club. See https://www.pdxtriclub.org/hagg-lake-swim/.
There are many other lakes in Oregon in which to swim open water. Bend is surrounded by swimmable lakes. Eugene has Fern Ridge, Cottage Grove and Dorena Lakes near by. There are swimmable lakes on the coast from Devils Lake in Lincoln City to Eel Lake, just south of Reedsport, where I work out. For Oregon lakes in your area go to https://aol.research.pdx.edu for the Atlas of Oregon Lakes.
So you have made a decision to swim the 10K and have set up a 13 week training plan as described in Part One in last month’s Aqua Master. There are some other things to do. Read the articles in the March/April Swimmer magazine from USMS on open water swimming, especially pp. 6-7. Register for the swim itself. Get your housing for Applegate Lake set up, either in a motel or camping at the lake.
Now, focus your practice in May and June on the 10K. Jump your yardage up. Swim a long distance swim once a week until a 5K straight feels comfortable. Do an open water swim in a lake once a week as soon as the water temperature is tolerable for you. Wet suits are fine for trainng.
Part of your taper can be one or both of the other National Championship open water swims in Oregon this year. You can do the 11+ mile swim down the Willamette under the Portland bridges on July 8, and/or the Two Mile Foster Lake Cable Swim, Thursday, July 12.
There are a few more things to do for the Applegate 10K. Plan your meals carefully the night before and for breakfast. I will eat a small banana just before the swim, but I am used to that. Practice your food intake before long swims.
You will need hydration for the swim. The 10K is four laps around a 2500 meter course with a hydration table sitting in the water near the finish. Everyone has their own hydration formula, so use yours. Be sure to stop each lap and hydrate. Don’t skip any stop just because you are feeling good.
Applegate Lake is relatively easy to swim for open water as the first buoy is clearly visible, and then you follow the shore for over 1000 meters. The most troublesome part is coming back, as the swim is just one long straightaway. In your warmup go out a bit and look at the finish line from the water so you know what to look for coming back.
Bring your sunblock and lather up well on your back and face before the swim. A positive attitude helps, too. Good luck, but remember what Seneca said, “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.”