I just wanted to extend a huge message of "Good Luck!" to all those of you competing in the Rottnest Channel Swim this Saturday. It's going to be a great day and I wanted to offer you 5 simple tips for your race whether you're doing a Team, Duo, or Solo. Here goes, hope they help:
- Bring lots of towels - swimmers get cold in this event not when they're in the water but when they're exposed to the wind on the boat deck (even on warm days). A nice, dry towel is always nice to hop out to rather than a sopping wet flannel.
- Ideal transition (swim) times would be somewhere between 3 and 8 minutes. After the first swimmer has done the first 1000m off the beach, my recommendation would be to slot into rotations of ~8 minutes or 4 to 500m. Anything too much longer than this and you'll see a noticeable drop-off in speed. Anything much shorter than this and you run the risk of tiring through constantly hauling yourself out of the water. The elite teams will rotate every 30 seconds to 2 minutes but this is totally full on, and may be a little too extreme for most teams.
- Keep it chirpy on the boat deck - it's a fun event and you should really approach it as a team, even if you don't know some of your team-mates too well. You'll be amazed how good you feel giving someone a well deserved compliment on their swimming and likewise what this feels like to be reciprocated.
- Stay off the grog until you reach Thomson's Bay - 'nuff said! :-)
- Use a rope with a bouy on the end to haul your finishing swimmer's into the boat once they tag the relay swimmer - they'll appreciate the effort saved here and it'll improve your torpedo position in the water too!
- As per note # 1 for the Teams, bring lots of dry towels and also some warm jackets too. Silver foil emergency blankets are also very good for those concerned about losing too much heat.
- Eat and drink well - roughly aim for ~600 to 750ml fluid per hour as well as ~60g of carbohydrates per hour too. This might break down as a biddon of Gatorade per hour as well as a couple of halve banana sandwiches (or similar) washed down with plain water. If you run low on fuel you will rapidly start to cool down - watch out for these symptoms!
- Transition times for Duos should be similar for Teams. Last year myself and my wife Michelle after the first 1000m did 4 rounds of 10 minutes each, then down to 4 rounds of 8 minutes each, then down to round of 6 minutes each until the finish as a rough guide of what you could try.
- Use a small white board to write messages of good luck to each other or commend your partner on their stroke. The irony of a Duo is that you never actually speak to each other for the whole event - leaving a message like this can be really motivational and fun!
- Be prepared to tow more than your fair share - hopefully both you and your partner will balance the swim out nicely and you'll each do your fair share, but the cold, shoulder niggles etc can all throw best laid plans off course and you could find yourself doing more than you had bargained for - don't panic - just get on with it!
- Aim to stop roughly every 1500m or 25 minutes for fuel and drink. My personal plan is alternating every 1500m with 250ml gatorade and then a gel and ~150ml of water at the next stop, but each to their own and you should know your own formula by now from training practice.
- Don't try ANYTHING new on race day - better the devil you know than the devil you don't.
- Expect to feel crap at points during the swim, but realise that these low points (both emotionally and physically) will pass if you keep focusing positively and just completing one stroke at a time to get you across there.
- Have confidence that all the hard work has now been done, look forward to having a great experience, keep a smile on your face at all times and especially enjoy the sunrise which is totally memorable I found on my first solo swim!
- Don't get grumpy with your crew. Like Dory says, Just Keep Swimming: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CmyUkm2qlhA
See you all at the pub!