Loch Lomond Go Swim 3,000m event

As I summarised on my Facebook page; yesterday I did the Loch Lomond Go Swim event. It was great fun and I’m sure this will be a great sport for me to be involved in going forward.

My first open water event, after a false start and buying and selling of a wetsuit maybe 6-8 years ago, then the Great Scottish Swim I’d entered being cancelled due to algae, I was off the hook then.

But this year was the year for it. So after selling my old and unused wetsuit years ago, I invested in my new Orca wetsuit, and all of the other paraphernalia around it to help keep me safe and seen in open water swimming. Then in June I had my first dip in Loch Ness, with the wonderful Pennie who lives near there.

After that I’ve trained in the pool 1-2 times a week, and then added in some loch and open water swimming some weeks. You can see more about my loch swims here:
https://lornpearsontrains.co.uk/?s=Wetsuit&submit=Search

In the middle of July I saw the Go Swim event in Loch Lomond and I thought it would be a good thing to enter. With 6 weeks to continue my training and get more into lochs / open water to get used to it, the timing was just right.

I took advice from two other swimmers / triathletes as to which one I should enter. I’d been regularly swimming 2,000-3,000m in the pool and I could build up my distance training in the pool and in lochs.

One said go for the 3,000m, you’ll be fine. And I had a look at the entry, to then find they the 1,500m was sold out. I did a training plan to check that it would be achievable for me, then that night I entered the 3,000m swim. Eeeek. Then the other guy came back and said, ‘definitely the 1,500m for your first swim. Oooops.

I felt a bit bad that I’d asked their advice then entered the 3,000m, but it was my only option, and to be honest, I had faith in myself that it would be the better challenge for me and that I should be able to train and deliver.

Anyway, I was in for it, and then came the test for me, to swim more regular in open water. Here’s where I swam:

Loch Ness
Stonehaven harbour
Lochan Spling
Dumbrock Loch
Loch Venachar
Loch Lomond (west side)
(River Nevis, but I wasn’t really swimming)

I didn’t much like the salt water, and I don’t think I’ll swim at Stonehaven again. I’m planning a swim this weekend at a loch up there, so that should be good. I might try Troon or somewhere, but I have a feeling I prefer real water, then the pool, then salt water.

I had done all of my training and I felt ready for the day – in 10 weeks I did:
– 25 swims
– 55.5km / 35.5 miles
– 1 mile and 1,000m time trials
– around 1,450 lengths

Back to the event. We were up early snd headed to Balloch Shores to register. There were already 5km and 10km swimmers in the loch when we got there, and my start time was meant to be 9:45. I got up and had ready and got breakfast before getting there about an hour before the start time.

There was plenty parking in an area not far from the start, and registration was straightforward. We were all given blue caps for the 3,000m swim and timing chips, a tshirt and a bottle.

I got the number 399, and got myself ready for the start. There was the adult and junior aquathon happening from 9am, them all in pink hats, so it was nice to see them all getting ready to go in, and come out.

I met Cath from the Glasgow Triathlon Club who id coached the week before and we had a good chat as the pink swimmers went in. It was a glorious morning for it. Nice and sunny and getting warmer by the minute. The loch looked nice and calm too.

The time was ticking on though, and when I thought we’d be ‘in our pen’ by 915 to get warmed up by 930… we weren’t… by 945, the start time, there was finally an announcement to say the start would be delayed.

Fit girl had my phone, but I was getting some nice messages from friend and colleagues through, on my watch. So that was also a nice way to pass the time. And thanks to Fit Girl for being there with me and helping me at the end too (and for buying me the burger too!)

It was probably a bit of pre race nerves for me (although it didn’t seem as bad as for a run event somehow), but it would have been good if they’d communicated it at 915. But it was clear we wouldn’t get on there course until a bit later / until the aquathon athletes were out the way, and it was good to see them all competing.

At about 950 or so we were in the pen, and we’re allowed to pop down to the shore to get in the water very briefly to warm up / wet up.

This was meant to be 15 mins, so I thought this could have been done better (not sure how as the aquathon was there and there wasn’t another access point to the water)… anyway, I got in for half a minute or so, bent down up to my neck, so that did fine.

We were rushed to get back up the slipway so they could start us and make up time. Then they set us off in groups of six. I managed somehow to be up front and I got out in the third group of 6, starting my swim just after 10am.

In the water I felt in a good flow right from the start. It was a little busy at the start, and a swimmer next to me stopped to wave at their supporter at the side which seemed a bit odd but each to their own.

I’m the one with orange arms from about 35 secs in

I had told myself to relax into it and get used to the water and before I knew it the first 250m was ticked off on my watch. Based on previous swims I’d estimated 5-6 minutes for that distance, and this first one was 4:17. I was pleasantly surprised and knew if I kept this up, I’d definitely be on for under an hour.

With it being my first open water swim and me swimming 250m in 5-6 mins, I sort of estimated my time as anything between 60-72 minutes. So this was great if I could keep it up.

Swimming out, facing north up the loch, the swim felt good, and I could see where I was aiming for. The next 250m ticked off under 5 minutes again, and after that my mask sort of steamed up so I couldn’t see my watch so clearly.

Then I turned left and was then hit with the low sun on my left each time I took a breath to the left. I was tempted to breathe on every 4 or 2 to my right, but I decided to stick with my natural, breathing every 3. I was able to sight ok again.

Then I turned again in the first lap, to swim south, and I could hardly see a thing. Mostly due to the sun in my face, but also because my mask probably needed a clear. Anyway, I kept swimming and sighting and before I knew it I saw a bouy. I started to turn left, but a lovely kayaker told me not yet, and I headed for the next one.

It was a bit like swimming blind, and I’m going to use my mirrored goggles in future loch swims, to see if they work better than my 6-8 year old mask. Anyway I got to the bouy to turn left again, and my watch ticked off half way.

I was feeling good, and still ticking along. By this point I couldn’t see my watch, but it all felt pretty steady. I swam to the next bouy and turned left again… and some how a little further up I started to veer off course (see the map). Another kayaker shouted and got me back on course.

There were a few swimmers close to me at points, one touched my right thigh at one point mid race (no idea how) and my ankle I think. It’s easy done especially when visibility is low.

I got to the end of the north stretch and took a left, I think I’d veered off on the first lap up the top, so I tried to keep straight. At the top corner I took a quick second to clear my goggles so I could see better again.

With about 500-750m to go, and with the precious experience of not being able to see with the sun in my face, I was thinking, why can they turn the sun off?? Ha … but seriously, I was thinking I just need to keep swimming and I’ll get there in 10-15 minutes.

I swam along side a few others and that’s how I knew I was still on course (and because no kayakers were shouting at me to straighten up!). At one point I was swimming next to a woman with yellow on her arms… I seemed to swim faster than her, then all of a sudden I felt a bit disorientated when I came up to see where I was, and she shouted in a friendly and helpful way – IT’S THAT WAY – pointing in the direction she was swimming in.

I kept going and headed for what felt like it should be where I was going … there were two other swimmers near so it felt right. I nearly missed one of the bouts to get between, then I saw the beach and started swimming towards it. Then I saw the yellow opening and the big blue finish line and redirects myself towards it.

I swam as far as I could, then attempted to walk / run up what felt like a rocky beach… once I was on the mat I ran for the line. Once across the chip timer, the lady at the end sort of shouted out my name ‘Lorna Pearson!’ … mmmm. At least she tried.

Afterwards I got my medal, took of my timing chip, got a banana, water and crisps and was greeted by Fit Girl who had just got there (because I said 60-70 mins and this was me in after 58!) and was filming me.

I cooled down, dried off, had my banana and got some pics. Then started to go towards the changing rooms to get changed. It all felt great.

My pacing splits were as follows… I did slow down towards the end (or went out a bit fast)… but I felt fine aerobically throughout, any delay was probably due to trying to stay on course or stopping briefly to check that I was on the right course.

My average heart rate was 136, max 158… so swimming events is probably easier for me than running… as my heart rate goes a lot higher in running. ❤️ anaerobic effort as well as aerobic (or so Garmin says).

It was a really good day for it, the weather probably made it even better, even though the sun was a nightmare in the water. I guess that just adds to the challenge and makes me think about making sure my gear is right for the day too.

Thanks to al the marshals who helped on the day too.

I would have said that the event could have improved better with slightly better timed communication about delays, but it being the first event I’ve done since March 2020 due to covid, I’ll let that go. It all worked well really.

Afterwards I got warm, and changed and had a walk and a coffee. Then we stayed at Lomond shores for a bit and I refuelled with the ready salted crisps, and later a cheese burger and coke.

We had a brief walk in a wooded area before went went home. I made quite an effort to rehydrate after it all, and I had quite a bit of ice cream later on, and. A good long sleep to recover too.

Later on the results came out and I was pleasantly surprised to have placed in my age, gender and category group – 3rd sunroof veteran. Since turning 40 in June 2020 this is my first event where I’m a vet.. so I’ll take that. I’m very chuffed.

It turns out I was 8th female and 20th out of 87. And I can also see some room for improvement if I do this more often. We will see.

The overall results are here:

http://www.thistletimingresults.co.uk/results.aspx?CId=20032&RId=106&EId=3&dt=2

I had a really great time doing the challenge, and I’m pretty sure it’s something I’d like to keep up and do again. I know my training helped a lot and I felt ready for it on the day.

Anyway, hopefully I’ll be back to do some more like this!

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