Louisville Ironman 2009-Part 6

The Swim

I jumped into the water about 7:05am. I had read to jump in and not dive in. So I jumped in with my legs spread and one arm out, and the other holding my goggles. I immediately started swimming freestyle to get away from the dock. The water was warmer than the air. My heart rate must have been cranked, and my breathing up. I started choking a little on the water. There was zero visibility. The water was brown. I flipped over on my back to back stroke. I had people all around me. I was feeling claustrophobic. Water was going over my face, and I felt like I was sinking more than usual. I started to panic. Thoughts of finding a kayak flashed through my mind. I managed to find a little bit of space, and just worked at backstroking my way up the channel. Pretty much everyone else was swimming freestyle and were going faster than me. They would brush up against me. They would piss me off a little as I felt they were violating MY space. I tried to ignore them and keep going. Every now and then, I would flip over and swim freestyle for a bit, then flip over and swim backstroke again. I tried to position myself out of everyone else’s way and just swim my own race. I started to try to get into a rhythm of swimming 40 strokes of backstroke, and then 40 strokes of freestyle. I kept looking over and seeing the island. I would have to swim passed the top of the island a ways before I hit the turnaround. I kept seeing what I though was the end of the island, but it wasn’t. There was always more island. How long was this damn island? Finally I got passed it. There were helicopters flying overhead. And also hot air balloons.
As I approached the turn around buoy which is about 7/10’s of a mile from the start, I was swimming freestyle. My hand hit soft sand on the bottom. Hmm… a sandbar. Was I on still course? I lifted my head, and saw that yes, I was still on course. My feet touched the bottom, and I stood up chest deep in the water. I started walking. I looked over at a guy on a kayak and said “Look, I am walking the Ironman swim….how cool is that!?!?” I walked on the sandbar for about 50 feet or more till it feel away. Then I swam around the buoy staying wide to avoid the other swimmers.
Now I was out in the main river. I had the current helping me at this point. The sun was coming up over the trees and was shining in my eyes now as I was doing backstroke. Maybe I should have worn my tinted goggles. I continued swimming a combination of freestyle and backstroke. The swimmers were more spread out here, and I felt better. They still brushed up against me, hitting me with their hands. I was just wait for them to go passed. There were barges on this side of the island and it was cool swimming passed them. It was nice to see I was actually moving. It was hard to judge on the other side as there were just trees. It felt like my swim cap was starting to come off. I tried to pull it on tighter. But each time I tried, I started to sink. I gave up and hoped it would stay on.
I swam passed the bottom of the island and was thinking I had less than a mile to go. My reasoning was that it was a mile walk from the transition area to the swim start, and the start was just a little up from the bottom of the island. I had plenty of time to think of stuff like this. I swam under a railroad bridge. I was supposed to flip over and swim freestyle, but I enjoyed looking up and seeing the bridge. When I did flip over and do freestyle, then flipped over to do backstroke, I saw how much water I covered. I could tell my freestyle was way faster than my backstroke. I knew this already. Oh well. I gotta work on it more.
I could see tents up in the not too far distance. I figured this was the transition area. It didn’t look too far. I just kept swimming. I was getting closer.
Then I could see the end of the swim. I just needed to get there. It seemed like I was barely moving at this point. It was just over there, maybe 50 yards or less. Why am I going so slowly? Just gotta get around this buoy. I reached the stairs. There were volunteers to help me up. My legs were a little unstable coming out of the water. I never encountered this after a swim. But they came around quickly. I pulled off my swim cap and goggles. I pulled out my earplugs, and threw them in a trash can. Volunteers were handing out cups of water. I wasn’t thirsty but I grabbed one and drank it anyway. I headed to grab my bike gear bag. I was very happy to be out of the water! I finished the 2.4 mile swim in about 1 hour and 42 minutes.