Tbilisi Swim Fest (guest post)

Today we have a guest post from my friend Jen, telling us about her win at the Tbilisi Swim Fest last month!

I’ve become a distance-ish swimmer over the past five years or so.  I was a competitive diver for many years as a kid, but continued swimming as an adult – for fitness and because I love the water.  While I was in Moscow with Mike, he encouraged me to train and increase my distances – we did training swims in the Moscow River and a great race in Sochi in Oct. 2017.

Last summer I trained for the first Eurasia Swim Cup to be held here in the Tbilisi Sea (actually a large reservoir) in September, just outside of the capital Tbilisi, Georgia, where I currently live.  I trained regularly with a friend of mine, Barry, and was pretty disappointed when it was cancelled due to lack of interest.

Fast forward to this summer – I started out pretty strong in the pool 2-3 mornings per week, but when Barry moved away in July, I got lazy.  I would swim a mile on the weekend (to remind myself I could), but it’s amazing how much more motivating a training partner can be.  I did get a nice swim in Lake Bled in Slovenia in early July – I’d love to do a race there someday.

I signed up for the Tbilisi Swim Fest, part of the Swimcup series (Кубок Чемпионов) at the Tbilisi Sea on September 22, 2019 (the same guys who did the 2017 Sochi Swim – they do a fabulous job).  I experienced issues registering online since I don’t have a Russian phone number, but emailed the organizers who registered me for the 3k.  BUT, I got nervous because I hadn’t trained enough, so I changed to the 1852m race, which is always a comfortable distance for me.

View from water

The morning started off around 8:30a – they even had Georgian dancers provide great entertainment to start the day.

Georgian dancing

The conditions were rough so the organizers reduced the distances due to the weather and wave conditions.  I believe 7k became 4k, 3k became 1852m, 1852m became 1000m and 1000m became 500m.  I was given competitor #1 (which I’ve never been in any race) and waited until about noon for our start.  I was one of the only swimmers without a wetsuit in the entire Swim Fest – and the only one of four women in the 1000m race swimming skins. Water was 18C, but compared to the chilly, windy air, I was so glad I didn’t wear one.

That’s me!

The water felt really good, although it resembled an ocean swim, especially the first portion, swimming into the waves.  After the turnaround, swimming with the waves was more fun, but many of us were annoyed at the buoy impeding our stroke (the rope needs to be longer, so it doesn’t chafe under the arm).

Thumbs up!

I finished in 13:06 and ended up surprising myself with first place for the women.  When I finished, I wanted to keep swimming – I would have much rather swum a longer race (my fault for not sticking to the 3k!).  But I was certainly glad I showed up.

I won!

They handed out beautiful medals and Georgian wine for those who placed.  Alexander Koshkin, a paraswimmer, competed as well, showing us that nothing is impossible.

First place swag

Sadly, the season is ending, but I may try my hat at a SwimRun next year.  Have fun everyone and JUST KEEP SWIMMING!

Group pic

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