Last Sunday I participated in the Cole Classic which is a 2km ocean swim from Shelly Beach to Manly Beach. It's my first ever ocean swim race, with my first time participating in an ocean swim being only two weeks ago (which I wrote about here). There was also a 1km event and a 5km event. I wasn't able to enter the 5km swim without previous ocean experience and the 1km swim was way too short, so that left the 2km distance. The Cole Classic is part of the same event as the Sun Run (which I wrote about here) so it was a busy weekend.
For once I was relaxed going into the event and had no expectations with regards to time and ranking. When I race swimming in a pool, and to a lesser extent racing running, I get incredibly nervous because I know I'll be very angry at myself if I don't reach my goals. So it was nice for once to have a different mindset. I know swimming 2km in a pool would take me a little over half an hour but there is so much variation in the ocean so I wouldn't even be aware of what is a good ocean swim time. I think the variation could even be up to ten minutes. So in the end I swam the race at a comfortable pace and it certainly didn't feel flat out. One of the hardest aspects is the monotony but I've found the Masters Swimming Endurance Program helped with that because I'm already used to swimming for up to an hour continuously.
Once again I had the impression that ocean swimming is so different to pool swimming, to the extent it actually feels like another sport. My main problem with ocean swimming is how difficult it is to see where you're going and being a pool swimmer I'm not used to breathing towards the front. I'm sure I covered more than 2km in total distance being too far out from the buoys and markings (probably all part of the skill of ocean swimming). There also weren't as many people in the water at any one time as I expected. After the first five minutes of it being very crowded around me, I couldn't rely on others so much to navigate where I was going. The course was a lot further out from the sand than I expected in deep water. There were some waves which was rougher than the ocean swim I did with Bold and Beautiful. None of this was an issue, it was just different.
The event was very well organised with participants starting in waves based on age category to minimise crowding in the ocean. There were plenty of lifeguards on the course in case anyone got into trouble. The start location on Shelly Beach was so beautiful. It's a small and calm beach around the corner from Manly. The area is so new to me but now it's one of my favourite beaches. The atmosphere was relaxed and positive at the beach prior to the start . It was an incredibly hot day (almost 40 degrees) which meant the water wasn't too cold for once.
These were my results which were much better than expected for my first ocean swim race. I'm not a massive fan of ocean swimming so I don't intend to do many of them. However, I'd participate in the Cole Classic again and I'm up for improving my results next year.
Have you ever done an ocean swim?