I recorded my first ever triathlon DNF at the Lake Waconia tri on Sunday. It was a beautiful blue sky and the temps were perfect both on land and at sea. Only there was a wind of 20 MPH gusting to 33 MPH and that's where it all fell apart for me. In fact my first warning of trouble is when the race director announced he was shortening the swim for the age-groupers from a half-mile to a quarter-mile swim due to the conditions on the water.
Lake Waconia is a good sized lake. And we started on the south shore. The wind was out of the WNW at creating frothy white-caps. I breath only from my left side as I swim. I have tried and tried to learn to breath from each side. But I can't dance, I can't juggle, and I can't breath bilaterally.
So a little over halfway to the first buoy I turned to take in air and instead took in half the lake. I've taken in water on the swim before so I didn't immediately panic. I just paused and tried to cough it out and be able to take in air. This is how it looked going towards the first buoy.
Only I kept getting blasted by the waves. A lifeguard happened to be at the right spot at the right time so I hung onto her foam rescue pad for a few ticks. I thanked her and took off again. Six or seven strokes later I got blasted again. At this point, looking back, I should have just rolled to my back or tried a sidestroke. But I called for the lifeguard, boarded a boat and my day was over.
I guess I was not surprised when I got on the boat to find others there. From my vantage point on the boat I was maybe 25-yards from the buoy. Now second guessing myself perhaps if I would have made the turn I think I would have been in better shape. Did I give up too easily? Hard to say. When I turned in my chip, I was told these were the worst swim conditions in the history of the event. I don't consider myself a weak swimmer, but once panic and doubt set in its not like you can just stand and take a break. The sharks were circling.
Count this up as a lesson learned. And I have a whole new appreciation for the elite athlete. Those boys and girls did not have their course shortened. They swam the whole thing, as bad as it was.