Yesterday was my first open water swim here in beautiful Russia. It was awesome. Right in the middle of Moscow. And less than a swim marathon away from our house! Who would have thought this was so close.
In the days and weeks leading up to the race, I had several hoops to jump through. For one, I needed a medical spravka. My dear readers have already read about my trials and tribulations of getting the right permission document for open water. But I’ve learned to never be sure until you’re actually swimming in the event.
So I did what every paranoid swimmer would do: I wrote on the event FB page asking questions. I made the mistake of confusing two organizations and asking questions in the wrong forum. One is the Champions Cup, Кубок чемпионов, while the other is the Eurasia Cup, Кубок Евразия. I shouldn’t get them confused as they have different profile pictures on FB.
Well, they both have blue in them. Anyway, after I got the right Cup, I asked them if I could send my medical spravka to them so they could tell me if I got it right. I had sent questions to them at their website “contact” section, but never heard anything back. I finally got an email from them and sent a scan of the spravka. You’ll remember that this spravka, as opposed to the one needed for swimming pools here, needed to specifically state that I was healthy enough to swim outdoors at a particular distance. I had the doctor circle every distance I thought I’d do this year, just in case the organizers wouldn’t be happy with just 10K being circled. It worked! They had no problem with my spravka and having 5.8k, 6k and 10k circled.
Another issue I’ve had to deal with here is how to pay for the swims. Another series of swims I’m doing this year (Seliger and Volga) I was able to pay for online with no issues. This series however, I can’t pay online. They use a Russian bank online pay system that doesn’t like foreign credit cards. I had mentioned this on their FB page and they told me to “leave my registration information on the online system and wait until the week prior (to try the system again).”
Or at least, that’s what I thought they said. Turns out they told me to wait till the week of, and then contact them again. Unfortunately, my mis-translation, I think, made me look like an ass on their page. On Monday I tried the registration process again and got the same result. Tried it later in the day; no luck. I was starting to get pissed. I really wanted to do this swim. So on their FB page, in the comment area of the post announcing this particular swim, I asked, “Why won’t you let me swim in your event?” They responded that they had already responded, they only needed my information “the week prior to the event.” Oy!
So I mea culpa’d my way into the 5.8K. They were awesome. I sent them my info, to include a scan of my spravka, and they registered me for the swim. Yesterday, the wife and I showed up quite early (~10.00) for a 12.00 briefing and went to the registration desk. They asked to see my passport and the original spravka. They took a copy. I filled out a registration form and got my cap and sensor thingy. I tried to hand them 2000 rubles, and the gal behind the counter didn’t know what to do. Thankfully, one of the ladies I’d been dealing with through email knew that I had to pay day-of, and took my money. But I guess I could have swum for free.
We settled in for the wait. I drank a couple bottles of water. Stayed out of the sun. Checked out the map, trying to figure out the routing. It certainly looked different than it did online.
In the above map, старт is the start, and финиш is the finish, and we’re going clockwise around the lake. But nothing like this route was evident in the map tacked up against the wall.
In fact, at the briefing, I learned that we’re not only not following the route from the website, but we’re going in a totally opposite direction.
In the picture above, we were to do one big loop in red (the same loop the 3.8k swimmers would do), and then one small loop in purple. The lake is huge, so it took me a while to spot from land where all these buoys were. Thankfully, the first two buoys, the ones I’d have to repeat, were tall red ones with white tops. The farther buoys were red. Between all the turn buoys were small white “Red Bull” buoys, except for the last purple leg coming home. Thankfully, there were two very large apartment buildings (~30 stories) that one could sight on. That was my plan.
Next step was to slather myself with Desitin and head off to the start. Next post, the swim.