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Noosa Ocean Swim 5km (February 3rd 2019)

I was feeling a bit anxious coming into the Noosa 5km Ocean Swim. Training had been consistent however I was still carrying the hip flexor injury which was interfering with my motivation to ride and run the big kms needed to keep my aerobic base up that was at it's peak at the end of 2018.

I'd been swimming 6kms a week with 2x10km weeks in the last 2 weeks in the lead up to this event. When I do my swimming sessions I aim to do 3km of good quality split up as 1500m in 20 minutes to warm up followed by 1500m of intervals or 1.9km at goal 70.3 pace followed by 1.1km of intervals to try and maintain an aerobic base for Triathlon and also a bit of speed. I had some good solo swims in the pool swimming 3.8km in 52 minutes long course which had motivated me in the lead up to this event.

I arrived at Noosa feeling pretty good and went upstairs to the surf club and ate a few pieces of jam on toast but didn't have a coffee as I didn't want to upset the stomach as the sea was looking rough. In my last 5km ocean swim I got a bit of motion sickness and was feeling a bit under the weather and finished feeling dizzy which was in the back of my head when I saw the surf. After I finished my toast I went down and had my yearly chat to Michael Klim just before the race, he had his leg braced up and was on crutches suffering from an injury, I asked him how his time in Noosa had been going and got a photo. Michael said to me "you doing the 5km mate?!" in a genuine respectful tone. He pointed out to me that there was really rough swell and advised me to save a bit of energy for the back straight as it will be quite a tough swim. I thanked Michael for his advice and wished him all the best with his recovery from his injury and moved to the starting line.

At the starting line I saw a mate from work who was also doing the 5km, he said g'day then started asking me what line I was going to take and what all my tactics were. To be truthfully honest at that point I hadn't thought of any tactics and ocean swimming is still something I am learning. I never grew up at the ocean as a kid I'm a city boy who did a bit of body boarding with mates during high school holidays at Mooloolaba and Noosa. Yes I have good swims in Triathlon but I usually end up by myself as I'm currently not fit enough to keep up with the pros but too quick for my age group pack. I told my mate that I was just going to follow the feet of the elite and try and hold on for aslong as I could. This is a good strategy for anyone in open water that can't read the surf as it's a hell of a lot better than having to do all the work yourself. A big part of open water swimming is positioning, if you can get in the pack of people who are slightly quicker than you and get up in the middle on the feet and get sucked along you will have a good race. If you are at the back of the pack and get dropped then it's going to be rougher if you are swimming solo doing all your own work. Similar to cycling if you ride in the pack and get dropped you better be strong if you want to finish the race as the pack can make you go up to 20% faster for the same effort. Ocean swimming is the same.

I left in the elite wave I backed myself going into this race and thought right I'm going to push myself out of my comfort zone. I held on for 600-700m then I got popped straight out the back of the pack and found myself swimming in super rough conditions with chop and big swell solo. I battled through the first lap as it was 3 loops to get to the 5km. I got to the point where Michael had advised me to watch and was getting smashed by waves getting serious motion sickness but got through the first lap, the second lap I felt a little sicker was starting to feel seriously motion sick and could feel myself slowing down as doing all the work was taking it's toll on me however I embraced it and put it down to mental training. On the third lap I thought I'm crazy! The average person would drown in this and I seriously questioned my sanity, I was totally cooked. I got through the last back straight but was feeling seriously wrecked and had terrible motion sickness and had been stung by multiple sea insects. I came around the last buoy and had to tread water for a yack 300m out from the finish. I yacked 4 times then continued to push out the last 300m to the finish. It was like the feeling of when you go on a spinning upside down ride and you've eaten too much then you come back to land.

I finished in 18th Overall in the Mens 5km and 2nd in my age group with a time of 1:12:05. Would have been nice to go sub 1:10 for a majority solo swim however I learnt some valuable lessons and gained more experience just by showing up to this event. Self growth comes from when you push yourself to get out of your comfort zone and embrace pain even when you aren't having your best day. One day when my time is up if I can be remembered for one thing I want to be remembered as the guy that never gave up. As no one ever beats the guy that never gives up.

Bring on the next event!


About the Author

Nic Rider is a corporate health and well-being coach with 8 years experience in the health and fitness industry. He is one of the top age group triathletes in Australia practicing what he preaches as he believes in leading by example to help inspire others. Nic has coached 100's of corporate professionals to start exercise, lose weight, build muscle and improve cardiovascular health along with injury rehabilitation. He has coached clients to run marathons and participate in triathlons along with climb mountains in the Himalayas.

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