How to avoid a meeting with the aircraft carrier, what kind of buoy... you have to hold up, how many languages should a swimmer know, where should you apply Coke after a swim, and what happens when you start to row like hell?
I am hanging. Five meters below me, a beautiful reef bottom and a flock of colorful fish scratching their heads over the floundering person. Yes, I’m floundering, thrashing the water with arms and legs, without moving, as if someone broke all the laws of physics.
I’m just hanging with that flock of fish in the Caribbean Sea. If the fish looked into my eyes wide open, they would have seen the horror …
How it all began
This year, I decided to make myself a birthday gift and bought a slot on Oceanman – International Swimming Championship in open water.
The first launch of this series took place recently, in April 2015, but the project is developing very fast. In 2016, Oceanman holds five races (Palamos, Lake Orta, Cozumel, Tabarka) and the finals in Benidorm.
Three distances are available for each swimming race:
OCEANMAN (6-14 km)
HALF OCEANMAN (3,5-5 km)
POPULAR (1 -2 km)
Until now, the project involved Spain and Italy, but this year, for the first time, the swimming race will be held in Mexico, on the island of Cozumel, and that’s where I go to swim 10 km in the Caribbean Sea.
My accompanying support is my old friend – Serega Shmygalev. Good and old. As he calls himself, “One friend of Volocean”
We arrived in Cancun. We took the car and went crazy a little:
I’ve been wanting to celebrate my birthday at CocoBongo club! Yes, in that same from the movie “The Mask”. By the way, the network of these clubs belongs to Jim Carrey. Without going into details (which were quite a lot, just like tequila), I will tell you that the show was fantastic, and the birthday rocked. At least, that part of it that I remember.
Chichen Itza is the largest preserved Mayan city. I did not think I could be impressed by a mass of rocks. It indeed is a powerful place, be sure to visit it in the Yucatan!
Cenote are flooded caves, where, as they say, the ancient Maya and Aztec priests were throwing sacrifices. We dived there from the heart – the water is clear and warm, and the stalagmites and dark gorges induce awe.
Well, how could I ignore a wonder of the world – the underwater museum in Cancun? Really absolutely brilliant idea to put a sculptural complex under water and get tourists there! However, the organization of the tour by the company Aquaworld was below average. Lots of tourists, little time, come on, come on. However, half an hour was enough for us to be really shocked!
In the morning, I got Serega hooked up on pranayama (breathing exercises with the purification of consciousness, downtrodden with thoughts), so each morning started at 6 am with the question -“Are we breathing?”. And we sat down in a pose a la lotus and breathed half an hour in the silence of the mind and body. It probably looked strange from a side…
We sailed to the island of Cozumel on Saturday. A lovely island with beautiful beaches, lots of restaurants and tourist atmosphere. We accommodated and went to regiter.
Registration was smooth, without incidents. You get a backpack with a chip, bulletin and some water. T-shirt comes at the finish.
Serega – well done, made a media accreditation for himself, as a journalist of Sporter, and is now allowed to run around with the camera in the water, under water, on the boat, or even on a submarine. And he will be welcomed everywhere, because we actually are shooting a Promo video of Oceanman.
Expo was absent, as such. There was one table, on which swimming goggles, caps and buoys were sold.
Oh yes, buoys. One of the requirements of the 10 km race organizers is the presence of the buoy. This I wrote without any errors. Inflatable buoy for long distance swimmers – it’s like a backpack for the ultramarathoner. It’s a bright, inflatable, waterproof bag, which should be attached to your belt.
Firstly, it provides safety – you may have a rest on it, for example, if a cramp hits your leg.
Secondly, you may put inside gels, water, phone, documents, camera, keys, money, clothes, anything. And all these will remain dry.
And, the most important thing – visibility. Now you are seen by the organizers, the passing submarines and aircraft carriers. And will try not to crush you. Therefore, I immediately buy my buoy and go to the briefing.
The briefing was in Spanish with Spanish slides. Because of the hundreds of visitors, we were not the only one who weren’t speaking Spanish.
But the organizers did not leave us in the lurch, and periodically repeated important messages in English.
In the evening, we have arranged for ourselves a “burrito-party” on the beach, then the gatherings, ammunition check and rest.
Plans for the race, in descending order:
A – swim into the top ten and qualify for the WorldCup.
B – Swim in your category in the top three. And get a diploma :)
C – swim out of 3:30
Waking up at 4:30 caused no problems. We woke up early because of the non-finished acclimatization. Pranayama, a light breakfast, as usually toasts and something sweet. This morning it was an expired with a dreadful taste February Nutella. But, with my eyes closed, I jammed 6 microsandwiches, for the carbs are carbs even in Africa, and the taste is not important.
Backpacks on the back, and here we are with Serega already at the start.
Here, the work is boiling – final preparations: volunteers, workers, lifeguards, boats, canoes, buoys, megaphones, something is dragged, oranges are loaded in barrels, and the water in boxes.
Marking, warm-up, we attach the buoy – it’s hanging between the legs, like a second stomach, cap, googles, chip.
Serega, cheerfully climbed into the boat with journalists and organizers. He waves his hand to me – come on, don’t let me down! Sure thing, everything will be great, fear not!
We align in front of the arch.
We run into the water for about 20 meters, hang and wait for the signal.
The water is warm and clear as mineral water in Moldovan café in summer. We swim over the reefs with fish, no waves, no wind – perfect conditions. Then I thought I was in paradise for swimmers.
I smiled, anticipating nice swimming hours of swimming, when the shot was fired, and we rushed to the first buoy…
We swim… I’m somewhere in the middle of the crowd, behind someone’s feet, and I am rowing in a comfortable pace. Drafting.
Drafting in swimming – is the ability to stay close to a fast swimmer in order to use the water turbulence for a more efficient spending of your own forces. Or, simply, like walking behind someone’s back in the windy weather. His clothes are ripped off, and you feel just a light breeze… Scientists say that drafting in swimming can save up to 30% of effort
There are two types of drafting:
Behind. You get behind the leader, as close as possible, but not enough to touch the leader’s feet. There is a risk to get bumped in the head, because in my experience, when someone follows you at tail and occasionally touches your feet, I just want to stop and hit with the foot. To hit hard.
Sideways. To do this, you need to take a position on the leader’s side, so that your head is located at the level between his thigh and chest. When moving forward, the swimmer creates a V-shaped wave trace. The task of the swimmer, who wants to take the advantage of drafting is to stay in the wave trace. It is important to synchronize your movements with the swimmer in front of you, so that you don’t get “mixed up” with your hands.
So I joined up and I am swimming, periodically glancing at the watch, and noting the good pace. I think I should check the number of the guy and treat him with a tequila tonight. After all, he is dragging me almost for an hour. I am already diving in thoughts into a new project – what is the best way to start, how to attract people, what will the website be like, and so on, in short, I am not straining and just enjoy the race…
But then I understand that I am swimming somehow very much relaxed and start to think of overcoming my “locomotive.” I overtake him, look around and… I see no one around.
The whole group raced so far away forward that I only see the orange pixels. What happened? Where we swam? Here it is, the third rule of drafting – do not trust your horse, always watch, where it drags you. Mine dragged me in a totally wrong direction. :(
It’s good that I’m not a gambler and I do not go to the racetrack – otherwise I would bet all of my money on the slowest horse.
I make an angry face and start working hard and going away from my guide, turning my head vigorously in search of the main group.
And here comes the surprise – all of a sudden my hands and face flash with fire. Burning pain, a if I got thrashed with nettle – I came across this in the Philippines. I understand that I got into the jelly fish – plankton cloud – there are such tiny biters that float in unseen flocks.
They also sting anything they meet on their way. Pain, however, doesn’t hold for long, and it becomes bearable 15 minutes later…
So, I see the buoys in two hundred meters, heading towards them. Four kilometers are left behind. Speed, surprisingly, is very good, 1:40 for 1 hundred meters – this is how I swim short distances in the pool. And, I think that today is my day.
And I am slowing down a little bit, so that I don’t drain out of forces prematurely. But where is everyone? Am I in fact at the Olympics and compete with the best swimmers of the world? After all, I know that usually on the swimming competitions I am in the first 20-30% of the participants. And here – the penultimate.
Ahead is the turning point with the feeding zone. Well, I think, that’s enough feeling sorry for yourself, start working hard after the turning. I grab a bottle of water, suck it out, turn around and start accelerating. Five minutes later, I suddenly realize that I swam away from the last buoy for just about twenty meters. What’s happening?
I am hanging. Five meters below me, a beautiful reef bottom and a flock of colorful fish scratching their heads over the floundering person. Yes, I’m floundering, thrashing the water with arms and legs, without moving, as if someone broke all the laws of physics. I’m just hanging with that flock of fish in the Caribbean Sea. If the fish looked into my eyes wide open, they would have seen the horror.
This is just wrong – if you are rowing with your hands and feet, you should be moving forward, unless… Yes, it is the back flow! Now I understand why I was swimming so vigorously until now. I accelerate to the maximum- the bottom moved from the dead point, but if it goes on like this, I will swim to the finish line in the evening.
And if I stop rowing, I…
If you’re running a marathon, you may stop at any point, sit down on the grass, drink some cold Coke, even sleep, if you are very tired. And then get up and continue the race from THE SAME PLACE where you have stopped. In my case, if I lie down on my back to “have some rest”, 15 minutes later I will find myself a kilometer farther away from the finish line.
Understanding this fact, coupled with the fact that forces for fighting the flow will not last long, blocks my mind, and panic is creeping into my brain …
You will not finish today …
– she says.. And I believe her…
Another 5 minutes are gone, I swam ten meters. I start calming down and reasoning. Why am I all alone here, where is everybody? Maybe, they swam on a different trajectory? Maybe they know more than me?
And then I remember the briefing before the race, during which only two people were talking English – I and Sergei. So, the organizers were talking in Spanish, and sometimes, seeing that we understand nothing, repeated in English. As it turned out later, they talked about the flow, but our inspired, nodding faces that moment made them confident that we understand everything. But we did not understand.
This calms, but does not solve the problem. I continue building a logical chain. Either flow has areas of fast and slow water. Slow is likely to be near the shore, due to friction. I swim to the shore diagonally and… oh, the wonder, the bottom begins to accelerate. Speed, of course, is not the one with which I rowed, but I’m moving forward! Even fish have decided to leave me alone.
Calculating how fast I swim, I understand that all my plans A, B and C go to nowhere, and now it all is just about finishing. But not more than 5 hours, otherwise -disqualification.
I feel dry mouth, throat tickles from sea water, and I have an hour to swim to the next feeding point at 8 km .
Swimming close to the shore, I slowly move from a buoy to buoy. The pier is ahead, trying to go round it, and again all of a sudden – I am not moving. Damn and blast!
Again I turn the grinding mode and start very slowly, as the illegitimate son of a sloth and a turtle, move forward.
And in this sad moment the organizers’ boat swims to me, they look at me for like five minutes and then politely ask, glancing at the watch – whether I had the desire to get on the boat and sail to the finish line?
This situation is no less motivated than the injection of adrenaline into the artery. I wave no with my head and turn it off. I do not need it now. I only need the hands and feet. Ten minutes later I overcome the pier and get back to the shore, where the flow gives at least some chance. And then I realize that I forgot to ask the boaters for some water. Damn, I am seriously thirsty already. Will have to bear it.
The shoulders are not just sore, they really hurt. My acceleration did not benefit them. I try to make not powerful strokes, but frequent. I feel like an hour passed since the turning, and I swam just 1.5 km away. Where is the feeding station?
Like vultures are circling over the dying animals, a volunteer on a board with a paddle crept to me – he will accompany me as a silent shadow till the end of the race, as a reminder of the fact that everything ends, sooner or later.
Jellyfish again! Dammit, this is certainly something I am not missing now! The hands and face are burning, throat is rubbed with sandpaper, nails hammered into shoulders, and to top everything off, a surfer is circling around. He should be wearing a robe with a hood and holding a scythe in his hands instead of oars. Then the picture would be complete.
In this remarkable state I “swim” to the shore to the feeding station. I ask for water with a hoarse voice, suck off a pint, take a deep breath and continue the way. Another 2km, according to my calculations it will take an hour – an hour and a half. Nonsense.
Another surprise – the clock stuck at 8.5 km, and not going further. Half an hour it’s 8.5.
Where am I? How much more should I swim?
In professional writers have such a term – “Lounge”. This is where the hero is in a desperate situation and the screenwriter is throwing him a rescue rope – unexpected circumstances build up in his favor – rain starts in the desert, five-liter bottle of water appears in the ocean, mercy wakes up in gangsters, and they dig you out of the grave.
That can not be done in any case, it is not professional and boring. The hero must solve his f…cking problems on his own, and not wait for a miracle!
But, fortunately, the screenwriter, who writes my story, did not know about it. And, considering that I was exhausted and about to go to the bottom, he decided to throw me the Lounge.
The back flow disappeared! Completely, as if it never was there. And I, without believing my eyes and the bottom flowing away, started to row like crazy. However, after fighting the flow, “crazy rowing” looks more like epileptic seizures, but I did not give up!
So here I am, knackered, with shoulders beat up with loads, wagging from side to side, like Santa Claus at the first of January, and I notice the finish line on the horizon. But Sergey asked me to let him describe the last minutes of the race. Why not, he knows better..
Finish by Sergei
I stand with the equipment ready at the finish line. Everyone has already finished: 1,5 km, 5 km, 10 km.
There is no sight of Voloshin :(
I agreed with the medical service to meet him right. In general, all the people are standing and waiting for Dima.
No Voloshin anywhere :(
Two people are swimming far away – probably Dima, they swim closer – pink caps (5km), and at 10 – yellow ones.
Here the boats swim and unload people, coming down the race.
No Voloshin :(
Dammit – where is Dima?
Here everything got really not funny. I notice they are already bringing the buoys and collecting the entire route. The medical service asks anxiously – where is number 50?
No Voloshin :(
Here in the distance two figures appeared – we’re waiting with a timid hope.
Yes, Voloshin appeared :) Cheers !!!
Despite all the signals, shouts and whistles to him – he swam past the finish line. He is putting his hands into the water already in quite a crooked way, like someone at his first crawl training – it is obvious that he is tired.
He crawls onto the platform, I give him the flag, he somehow spreads it over his head and finishes! Halleluiah!
? $ # @ (*> <> <@ # $ @ – Sergei, what was that?” – politely asked Dmitry.
I was very surprised by this swim,” – concluded politely my stunned friend …
However, if you remove all the humor out of the situation, it was obvious that it was extremely difficult for him – my respect, he swam all the way till the end. The main conclusion – it is necessary not only to prepare physically, but also to learn Spanish, so not to waste briefing again, where they talk about the currents.
Yeah … you can not throw words out of the song, I finished penultimate with sad 4 hours. But this race has taught me many things: how to eat in the long distance, why you should not draft behind any person, how to deal with currents, not pay attention to the jellyfish and be as attentive as possible at the briefing…
Then there was the licking of wounds – armpits burned with particular fury, as if I was carrying two sea hedgehogs there – I forgot to put the Vaseline on before the swim! Jelly fish burns are gone, but shoulders were full of misunderstanding, much like the tibia after the first marathon. But, fortunately, tequila has an anti-inflammatory analgesic effect, so life got a lot better by the evening!
In the evening, we met with the organizers of the race, shared the plans for the development of swimming in open water, which, incidentally, is actively gaining popularity in the world. They checked out our nautical mile, and we praised their event. No kidding, everything was done professionally, and I actively recommend OCEANMAN.
By the way, the guys told me, what happened to me.
It turns out that we were warned in Spanish that next to the buoys in the first half of the race there will be a favorable longshore wave current, catch it! And while everyone was rushing along it to the turning point, I was thinking about a new project, lazily rowing behind my Susanin and getting away from the buoys.
Well, back – respectively a strong back current, so stay close to the shore – there it is weaker. And it took me, damn it, half an hour to understand it….
As my dad told me multiple times –
Silly head gives no rest to the feet.
And I wondered – just how bad my silly head did not give rest the legs and arms?
Usually, on long distances, I spend 20 minutes per 1 km and make 55 strokes per minute. (Data from the Lake Balaton, Seemile, Olimpian)
So, I had to swim ten km in 200 minutes (3:20), making 11,000 strokes.
But the clock says I swam it in 4 hours and made 13,000 strokes.
Here is the answer – 2000 extra strokes I made, remaining in one place…
You’re right, Dad, your son is a dunce: )