And now I have a treat for you - a race report from Sara Murphy, a graduate student in my department - a marathoner! - who took up swimming last year after being hit by a seriously problematic case of compartment syndrome and who boldly undertook to do this as her first swim race, at the urging of Columbia coach and swim teacher Abby Brethauer. Congratulations to Sara, and thanks to her for letting me post her e-mailed report!
I had to email you after reading your race report. I'm sorry that I missed you, too -- I was a little dazed and confused after exiting the water, and didn't stay very long. It was my first open water swim, and twice as long as I've ever swum; My friend Abby (who I swim with in the mornings) convinced me to do it. I'm SO glad that I did, and Abby deserves 17 gold stars for staying with me the whole time. (She's an excellent swimmer, so she could have blown by me at anytime.) She even shut me up when I would pause on occasion to moan, "but I'm already past the time limit! I'm going to be DQ'ed and refused a medal! Wahhhhh!"
Since they clearly disregarded the time limit, I think you're right on the tidal assist: it just wasn't there, which only means we are much better swimmers than we knew.
For me, the mental side was the toughest. I got over the fear/shock/surprise of seeing only murky green when I put my head in the water quickly enough, but I really felt at sea (literally) with how spread out we were allowed to be. The buoys were not really helpful markers, and I should have listened to Abby more when she said to aim for the pillar of the GWB. Physically, I felt no exhaustion, so I didn't fear getting into trouble and needing to be pulled out. Without Abby, though, I think I would have felt too mentally down (and convinced that I had DQ'ed) to finish. Then, I would have pulled some glorious strop when I discovered at the finish line that the time limit didn't apply.
Most hilariously/frustratingly, however, was learning that I zig-zag like a herringbone pattern in the water. I would literally take 20 strokes and be facing Manhattan, and then face New Jersey after the next 20. (Abby thinks I actually did closer to 4000 yds, given how much back-and-forth I went. Way to make a hard task harder.)
So, I think I'm going to sign up for the swim part of the Aquathlon so that I can practice sighting over a smaller distance. My first open water swim was definitely a baptism by fire, but I think that's kind of how I roll with these things. Swimming 2000 yards today, though, was probably not the best recovery plan. :-)
I'm so impressed that you're doing the Red Lighthouse swim! I might shoot for the Governor's Island swim in September, although I balk at the prices.
Anyway, sorry for the ramble. Still riding a bit of the high -- I'd forgotten how much fun it is to race something, even when the race itself has its moments of absolute mental meltdown. I really enjoyed reading your report, and I'm obsessively refreshing the NYC Swim page to see when the results will be up.