Race Report: Lake Berryessa


Oh, what a treat to swim a race in a lake at 73 Fahrenheit! It was wholly worth the two-hour drive at the crack of dawn. I drove through beautiful forests and vineyards, ending at Steele Canyon. The event was efficiently organized by Davis Aquatic Masters. I signed up for the 2+1; that is, the two-mile swim, followed by the one-mile swim. There was no option to swim the two races as one, which was actually not bad; it was fun to get a breather between races and chat with the other swimmers.

Most people swam the race in skins, though there was a smallish contingent in wetsuits. And much to my delight, the first waves included USA Swimming teenagers. They were fast!

I greatly enjoyed the two-mile course, which took us into a beautiful secluded cove for the turnaround buoys. On the way back, I realized, a bit too late, that my sighting was off, and that I was too far away from the buoys, which I’m sure cost me some time (I don’t know my result yet; left shortly after my swim.) I resolved not to make the same mistake in the one-mile course. It was, obviously, a shorter race, but it felt harder, because by then the wind across the lake picked up and we had to fight the chop to stay near the buoys.

Complaints about the chop were pretty universal, though I suspect they came mostly from pool folks; we tend to take conditions as they come. I was thinking in the car on the way back home that there really isn’t such a thing as a swim without conditions. There’s always something interesting. Big ocean swells are fun, too, but as a seasickness-prone person, I prefer flat waters. I’m glad I did some hypoxic work at the Balboa pool; the little chop slapped in our faces and made it difficult to stick to a 3-3 breathing pattern.

All in all, even if I was on the slow side, I was happy with my performance. My back nagged a bit, toward the middle and end of the two-miler, but I worked with it and rolled from side to side. I still have to think whether I’m up for the ten-miler in Vermont, or need to switch to the six-miler in order to protect my back. Nonetheless, a fun day on the water, and a reminder of how much I love our sport.

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