Auckland Marathon Swim

This morning I ended the 2015/16 swim season in the best way possible – with the 10km Auckland Marathon swim. I missed out on this swim last year due to bad weather and then this year the weather forecast had been a bit marginal so it was great that everything went off without a hitch today.

The swim left from Glendowie boat club before heading around the head to Ladies Bay, through to Tamaki yacht club and then into St Heliers (well trodden ground for some of the locals but not us out of towners). Some flat water to the head then a bit of swell before flattening off again. I came in second non wetsuit woman keeping a pretty consistent pace and was grateful to have an awesome kayaker who was almost braver than me, tolerating some nippy rain showers.

This swim wasn’t big and flash. Like many of the swims that I’ve been lucky enough to take part in this season, it came together because of organisers who are passionate about swimming and want to see the sport grow (thanks especially Wayne!).  It’s great to be able to support these swims.

It’s been quite a season and I’ve covered some good ground – Vanuatu (if last winter counts), Russell/Paihia, Nelson/Tasman, Taupo, Rotorua Lakes, Christchurch, Perth, Mount Maunganui, and not to mention the number of swims I did in Auckland and home in Wellington.  I’ve also regularly met up with a great bunch of swimmers who are just as crazy as me about their swimming. It is very easy to get the swim bug and you quickly find that no two swims are the same.

Not surprisingly I’ve decided I should have a frugal May!

Taking lessons from Rangitoto

I think I’ve had writer’s block for the last wee while. My latest swim was actually over a week ago – swimming from Rangitoto Island in Auckland to St Heliers. So this blog is a little late. Maybe a sign that the end of the swimming season is approaching. Or else it is that good things take time.

Rangitoto has to be one of my favourite Auckland swims (maybe the favourite). I definitely prefer it over the large Harbour Crossing swim in December which tends to be short, crowded and usually at the start of the season when I don’t feel like I have my ocean swimming mojo going on.

When I was thinking about how to sum up the swim for this blog I had in my mind the swims that came after it. The 4.6km Rangitoto was on a beautiful April morning in Auckland – the water was warm and flat, and while not too crowded a swimmer behind me seemed to enjoy reminding me every now and then that I wasn’t alone (usually when I slowed down). My first swim back in Wellington after Rangitoto was different, it was quiet, at least 3 degrees cooler and the water was deceptively choppy and washing machine like. I loved both swims even though they were both very different.

No two swims are the same and you take something different away everytime. As much as I moaned about the taps on the toes after my Rangitoto swim (I somehow seem to love peace and quiet during a race which isn’t usually a good race strategy), I needed those taps on the toes to keep me honest. I was tempted to cruise it but I had to pick up the pace – I wasn’t going to let someone who had been drafting me beat me!

I suppose there is probably some deep life lesson here (not that I’m usually analysing my swims for life lessons!). Do you master one thing by doing it again and again? Probably not – you probably master it by doing something different and learning from that different thing.

This weekend is the Auckland marathon swim. I will probably be on my lonesome for this one so I might imagine having someone annoying on my toes to keep me on my pace!

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Kapiti to the mainland

One of the longest running ocean swims in New Zealand is probably the Kapiti to Mainland 5.6km swim north of Wellington. It’s only small and organised by the local swimming club with volunteers from the boating club.  I’ve wanted to do this swim for a little while but it proved elusive. Last year they couldn’t get a good weekend which lined up with tides so it didn’t end up being run. This year the swim was scheduled for a month ago when I was in Australia so I thought I’d missed out again. Fortunately for me (not for others) the swim was called off and rescheduled.

There were 10 of us swimming this year.  Conditions were a bit touch and go yesterday but the forecast improved enough for the swim to go ahead.  We headed out to Kapiti island in the rain for a 10.30 race start. I didn’t really know too much what to expect after that. The swim is more or less in the Cook Strait so I definitely wasn’t expecting a straight line.

The advice was to go hard for the first part of the swim. I’d like to think I had a good pace but I didn’t help myself not following the boat as well as I could –  zigzagging along. I’d love to see my course but I didn’t give my watch long enough to pick up gps signal before the start of the race so wasn’t able to make a map. I might work on the whole navigation thing.

The race was certainly varied. The start was in beautifully clear water at Kapiti island. Away from the island a little swell kept things interesting. Then a good current  came into play closer to the island. I managed to go from being on the left of the course to quite a bit right (the swimmers behind were pulled further right/south). The last 1km was then a bit uphill to the finish line.

All up an enjoyable swim and the water was still quite warm (18c). It is April though so this will be one of the last swims of the season – just a couple more in Auckland.

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