Journey to a 10k Open Water Swim

By OceanFirst on 8/3/16

This is the first of a three part series by our Swim School Director Lauren Pacheco about her quest to complete a 10k open water swim. Read about her journey to dust off her competitive swim goggles and prepare to swim:

This year I have made it my goal to jump back into the swimming world in full force. Before you ask, while I do run a swim school, aside from a few solo practices and swimming laps at the local gym I haven’t been committed to the sport as much as I would have liked. As the swim school director, my job has transitioned from the pool to the shop floor, so I needed to find an outlet for my swimming passion. Let the training begin.

13718562_10104147382244633_4511963145936381118_n.jpgA big step in getting back into swimming is to pick a goal. Once in the water it’s been difficult to get myself motivated to do that extra lap or really push myself.  So this January I decided that not only was I going to get back into swimming, but I was going to seriously challenge myself by participating in a marathon swim. More specifically, the Horsetooth 10k swim on August 14th.  

I set up this goal for two reasons. First, marathon swims and open water races are completely new to me, which means that I can’t be tempted to compare my performance to my 18 year old self. My summer mantra has been: “Hey, I have never done this before so no matter how I do is fantastic. At least I did it!” The second reason I picked a 10k was because it was really, really long. I used to be a distance swimmer back in high school and college, but the furthest I ever raced was 1 mile. I know I can do a mile, so I needed something daunting enough to make me get up to train at the Boulder Reservoir at 6 am. 6.2 miles of open water swimming is just the motivation that I needed.   

With my goal established, the next step was accountability. This strategy has worked well for me in the past, the most notable outcome being my solo move to Australia for a year. Simply telling a ton of people that you are going to do something big, something hard, something slightly crazy, ups the ante and adds a little self-induced peer pressure. If we’ve spoken in the last few months, I have probably mentioned my race. Now that it’s alive on the Ocean First website there is no going back.

Now the fun part: the actual training. First step, join a swim team. Being my own trainer wasn’t cutting it; I needed someone to give me sets, intervals, and the motivation to not rest longer than necessary. Enter the Boulder Aquatics Masters Team. Since joining, I have been practicing with them 5-6 times per week, have made tons of new friends, and have reconnected with old teammates from CU.Screen-Shot-2016-08-03-at-2-12-39-PM.png

Open water swimming is a new and intimidating form of swimming. Overcoming my fears means learning to accept the following:

  • It is cold
  • You can’t see what’s in the water with you
  • There isn’t a bold black line to follow
  • You often get waterweeds wrapped around you– they can be really prickly!
  • You shouldn’t let the water in your mouth for the sake of your health
  • In an open water race people can swim over you instead of around you
  • In order to see you have to pick your head up enough to spot the yellow buoy 300 yards away in front of a rising sun… without breathing to avoid getting a mouthful of Rez water (which is not yummy as you can imagine).

Read part two: Racing! 

13690873_10104147383537043_1889184657728941944_n.jpg Screen-Shot-2016-08-03-at-2-12-01-PM.png 

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