Report by Greg Gourley & Caz Makin
The National Capital Swim has always been a 9km swim down the full length of Lake Burley Griffin. At the request of some of our club members, the swim length was increased for 2020 to 10km, making it an official ‘Marathon’ Swim.
Club members who took part in the event were: Nicolee Martin, Suzie Gunning, Paul Quinn, Greg Gourley and Caz Makin.
Whilst navigating COVID post-lockdown, many swimmers were able to access pool swimming on their own outside of squad sessions during June and July with pools re-opening. With club training resuming in August, many swimmers were still endeavouring to regain fitness. At the start of September a group of like-minded members decided to start training for the 10km open water event.
The club’s Distance and Pace (D&P) group leader Greg Gourley came up with a 10-week training plan. This was significantly shorter than the desired plan with swimmers having a base level of swimming 12km per week and which would run for up to 20 weeks run for around 20 weeks. Some of the swimmers attending the D&P sessions probably had less of that base and were unable to dedicate more than one D&P session per week, however, each Friday the D&P group, some or all of the crew who entered the 10km event, met at Stromlo pool for the planned D&P training session when they were able, due to work commitments and willing, with the mindset to handle the style of the sessions. Some swam their own distance training sessions on their own outside of the Friday session. Some participants had a couple of ‘practice’ open water events as swimmers in the Triple Tri a couple of weeks before.
Some swimmers, i.e. Caz, only decided to take part in the 10km event a week before it taking place and had done no D&P sessions apart from a couple in the first weeks of the 10-week plan! She did have a very personal reason for doing so … simply “for my dad “Masharubu” in the UK … wearing the lion with pride, for one last time in an swimming event.”
Due to water quality issues, and the closure of the regular finish spot at Grevillea Park, two days before, the organisers moved the event to Lake Ginninderra to be swum as 4 x 2.5km laps.
It was disappointing to learn that we wouldn’t be swimming the length of Lake Burley Griffin and instead would do laps around Lake Ginninderra. Given this decision, paddlers accompanying our swimmers were given a reprieve and were not needed for the event.
On race day, Greg was up at 4 am for an early coffee and small breakfast, followed by a smothering of sunscreen. Most probably others lay in bed for up to another hour.
On arrival at the venue at 6 am, many swimmers were already there, including one of our club’s former coaches, Gary Odewahn, who was also taking part as a solo swimmer.
The wind was already up and blowing quite hard and we all knew it was going to get worse as the morning progressed!
At 6:30 am all solo swimmers and some teams hit the water into the waves and wind.
For each 2.5 km lap, the first half was OK, with the wind behind us, but heading across the diagonal to the far end of the lake and then taking the 180-degree turn around buoy sending us back up the lake was a different story.
As the lap count increased, so did the wind and waves, each lap becoming progressively harder, with some swimmers experiencing the feeling of seasickness/nausea.
Caz, despite feeling pretty decent in the first 2 laps up to the 5km mark, hit complete “glycogen bonk” (as happens to runners and cyclists) at around 6.2km battling with the choppy water and nausea and the lack of any specific training for the event, having to swim the last km of the 3rd lap breaststroke to get “home” at just under 7.7km in total, and made the wise decision to not attempt the 4th and final lap.
Paul Quinn, Nicolee Martin, Suzie Gunning, and Greg Gourley all completed the full 10km swim, which just shows that the D&P training sessions they completed (some or all of), increasing distance week-by-week up to a max of 8km in the run up to the event, definitely assisted in their ability to cross the finish line! A great effort indeed! Well done D&P’ers!!
The event this year comprised 30 solo swimmers and 16 teams. Check out the full results for the 2020 event.
In previous years we have often had a team or a few teams taking part in the event, so if you don’t fancy doing it solo, consider getting up to 4 club members together for a team!
Thanks to the paddlers who offered to paddle for us — we know that it’s also a big commitment and can also be a big challenge to some of them. Thanks also to our family and club members who came to support us.