Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Tips for this weekend's 2019 Rottnest Channel Swim

Dear Swimmers

In 4 days time many of you will be on Thomson's Bay sucking back a coldie or two and celebrating how you made it across to Rottnest amidst what were some favourable swimming conditions!
I'm always asked to give my thoughts a few day out on what the weather will be like come race day and I usually precede by saying:

"Que sera, sera...whatever will be will be!"

Always at the forefront of my mind when preparing a great number of you to take on this epic swim, is how to prepare you for a wide-ranging multitude of scenarios - to make you the most versatile swimmer you can possibly be. There's always an undertone to every session we do in this regard:
  • MONDAY (Pure Technique) - we work on the ability to switch and change breathing sides at will and to be able to cope with the need to go a few extra strokes (2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9...) if needs. We work on posture and alignment and your ability to swim the straightest possible line
  • TUESDAY (Technique / Endurance) - we work on developing your steady state aerobic capacity and your ability to swim with enhanced rhythm into waves, swell and chop through the use of pull buoy, paddles and bands.
  • WEDNESDAY (Red Mist Endurance) - we work on your ability to pace yourself out well and sustain this, even when you're not feeling at your very best...if you can be the best version of yourself even when you're having a crap day, then you'll go well! Mental fortitude is what Wednesdays are always about.
  • THURSDAY / FRIDAY (CSS Development) - the one and only number you ever need to know and be aware of as a distance freestyler is your CSS pace...if this gets quicker then everything you do over 400m improves.
  • SATURDAY (Stoic) - a sage reminder of how to not take yourself too seriously, how to have fun whilst practicing all of the above and to always be grateful for your ability to take onboard these crazy challenges, no matter how daunting they might sometimes appear...no one is holding a gun to your head saying "you must swim!" - so do it for you and you only and all will go well.
So, with that little pep talk under your belt, let's look at this weekend shall we.

First off, your resources:
  1. WEATHER - I like the Willy Weather app (available here: https://itunes.apple.com/au/app/willyweather/id592978502?mt=8
  2. CURRENTS  - the UWA Coastal Oceanography is excellent in this regard (http://www.coastaloceanography.org)
  3. TRACKING - I like the MapSwim app (available here: https://itunes.apple.com/au/app/mapswim/id600020356?mt=8)


The currents around Rottnest Island can be quite changeable and there's no specific forecast for those, but from just tracking the last few days, I believe we'll see very light currents moving from South to North accompanied by light to moderate SW winds (a typical sea breeze but perhaps not so strong) which will kick in from around 11am. Many of the Solo swimmers will be well on their way by that point (and some will be in of course!), but as this wind strengthens over the course of the morning / early afternoon, the biggest gains will be for the faster swimmers (as is often the case - read about 2017 here: http://swimsmoothperth.blogspot.com/2017/03/so-just-how-hard-was-rottnest-channel_9.html).

My recommendation would be to stick to a direct line to Rottnest, possibly edging slightly south especially if you are planning on arriving in Thomson's Bay say after midday. I wouldn't be recommending any radical "very" south or "very" north moves this year, as right now, the conditions don't dictate that...but of course these can change! So here's what we're looking at right now, but check those resources on the day before and you should be set.

Wind (on Saturday)

Wind (today)

Water temperature (today)

Currents (today)

Further reading:

How many swimming from the squad?

It's interesting to note that this year I believe we've seen our LOWEST uptake on either the Rottnest Channel Swim or the Port-2-Pub Swim and yet THE SQUAD IS AT AN ALL TIME PEAK in terms of consistent attendance. 

I know triathlon specifically has seen a down-turn in participation in recent years (TRI Events folded late last year citing this as a reason for example), but I'm not so sure that's the case with open water swimming? 

The Busselton Jetty Swim saw it's biggest completion rate ever and some marvellous conditions too. 

My belief is that big events like these two swims and also Ironman etc take a huge toll on the body and family / social / work life balance, so it could simply be that in the average life-cycle of the average squad member that priorities are being directed elsewhere perhaps? I'm not sure. My read on it (and I can relate to this myself) is that give me 2-3 solid training sessions a week that challenge me and my limits, maybe have some kind of competitive element to them, keep me fit and healthy but don't destroy me for everything else that I do, and ultimately I'm a happy camper. Whether or not you think that a Red Mist Endurance Set hasn't "destroyed you" as you doze off at your desk over a long macchiato is purely a matter of perspective 😉

That's not to say that no one should consider doing these types of events (or that we wouldn't support them in that quest - we do, gladly!), but that we have quite a collection of stalwarts within the squad who've "been there, done that, collected at least X number of t-shirts" and so perhaps that's where the life cycle of the squad is right now? Que sera...

As we have a large majority of you having swum with the squad for in excess of 10 years (some as many as 17 - wow!), perhaps that's just where we're all at? And that's OK...I'd love to hear your thoughts and opinions on that if you wanted to email me back? Am I on the right track do you think?

Nevertheless, come Saturday, I know for sure, that if you're swimming - in whatever capacity - that you'll have the full backing and support of every one of our 450+ active squad members wishing you well as you embark on your own personal challenge!

Remember, do it for you and you alone and all else will fall into place.

Good luck!

Proud Coach x

P.S please email me your number and race name (Duo / Team) if you are competing!