The last week in Wellington has been stunning. You know it’s almost summer when half of Wellington heads to the beach after work to briefly enjoy some sun before sunset.
It was the perfect week to up the distance a bit and get out for some sea swims in in the evenings. I had been maintaining some good distances over winter (20-25km a week) but with summer on the door step, I’m now looking to step this up. The other week I officially entered the SCAR swim in Arizona and training now feels like it’s started. I partly put this down to Phil Rush counting the number of weeks that I have to fit my training into (I had been working in months prior to talking to him).
SCAR swim is a fairly epic challenge. It will be four days of swimming in four lakes in April 2019. It adds up to over 60km in total with the longest day (the third day) being a 27km swim). While I’ve done a few swims now that are around 20km, this will be another level. I’ve wanted to do the event since another kiwi swimmer participated a few years back and really enjoyed both the event and meeting swimmers from around the world.
It’s been quite exciting to be ‘starting my training’. I put this down to two things: (1) I’m training up to do an event that I’m really excited about and challenged by, and (2) it’s a really cool time of year to be swimming.
I was discussing this with one of my swim mates this morning over breakfast and I thought I could quite easily pull together a list of reasons why we love the start of the swim season:
- Water temperature: this time of year is when you feel the rewards of those winter sea swims. For most swimmers 15c is still on the chilly side but after swimming in cooler termperatures, 15c is fantastic! The sea is starting to feel warmer, you can swim longer but it’s still cool enough to give you a bit of an endorphin hit.
- You’re allowed to enjoy the spa: sticking with the temperature theme, the upside of the water warming up is that the spa becomes an option after a swim (a spa at colder temperatures is not a sensible option). Similarly, you can survive ok if your swim mates choose an outdoor table at the cafe for the after swim breakfast (as happened this morning).
- No jellyfish or salps – Provided it hasn’t rained heavily, the water around Oriental Bay in Wellington is beautifully clear and free of jellyfish or salps at this time of year. These creatures tend to arrive with the warmer water and you really do want to make the most of not having to share the harbour with them.
- Outdoor swimming pools – It’s not all about the ocean and it’s been great to have got a few swims in at the Thorndon outdoor pool. A few of us are also planning to travel to the 50m Wainuiomata pool over summer to get some long sets in. It’s surprising the difference between an indoor and outdoor pool mentally for swimming long sets.
- Planning adventures – This is terrible for your credit card but a lot of fun. This is the time of year when you think about entering different swim events and booking flights. You do look forward to this over winter so there are inevitably a few controversies when you find out your favourite events have had changes. (I’m not a big fan of Swimming NZ right now after they got rid of the 17.5km swim option at the January Epic Swim in Lake Taupo). Most exciting has been booking flights to America for SCAR!!
- Getting serious: This is the time of year when everyone is thinking about their big goals and getting serious. One of the great things right now in Wellington is that there are several swimmers planning big events (including Cook Strait, Taupo and Waiheke swims). This is great for recruiting training buddies to do the long training swims with you.
- Return of the tracker dot – The first Cook Strait crossing for the season occured the other day. It was a reminder how much us swimmers enjoy following each others’ adventures, often by following a dot on a map. The tracker was gripping viewing over the last few hours of the swim with the Brisbane swimmer almost swimming on the spot with the current changing.
Definitely looking forward to summer! I think we’ll be back to some cooler temperatures next week, but that’s ok because we’ve had a small taste of what’s to come.