I am not able to think from where to start. I am not able to believe I did that. I am not able to feel weather it was real. I am not able to forget what I did. I am feeling satisfied about it.
It was a Sunday morning of 13-August-2017 I finished my first ever open water 1 km swimming in Thonnur Swimathon. It was a great experience, being my first ever open water swim it made it an awesome feeling to finish.
On July 24 I came to know about the Swimathon in Thonnur by Kumar. He was thinking weather to participate in it. I was quite interested in the event. But was equally quite curious about the event. This being my first ever open water swim there were lot of questions about it. With lot of queries and hopes I registered for the event.
I researched a lot about the previous events by asking lot of questions to people who had participated in it before. I saw the pictures in Facebook of the 2016 event. Everyone was quite supportive and positive in keeping my spirits high. I consulted few people like Tim Tim, Nitin Jain, Suman Singhi. Tim Tim said be confident and perform well. Nitin Jain said not to worry I won’t drown and no one will let me drown. Suman Singhi said not to panic in water. Practice swimming in pool without touching the edges of the pool. I did the same till the event. I saw lot of YouTube videos about open water swimming. Each and every video was quite nice to motivate me in making me perform well on the day. There was a small fear back of my mind. I had to somehow over come that fear.
I booked a cab from Manjunath Travels to travel to Thonnur on 13th morning. Cab reached my residence on time at 2 am. It was approximately 140 km from Bangalore to Thonnur. Offline google maps helped me to reach the venue without any confusion. I reached the venue by 5:45. The Swimathon time was 7. I tried to relieve myself by using the loo. But the loo was not in a proper condition. Skipped the important morning task.
I signed the swimmer waiver form by the organizer. My bib no was 129. The volunteers wrote my no on my arm to identify.
Organizers told the swimmers can take a dip in the water and get a feel of it as we had 30 minutes left for the event to start. I changed my clothes to swimming costume. It was quite cold on that day. I was imagining how cold the water would be. Water was not clear. It was green brown due to mud and green vegetation inside water. I didn’t know the depth of the lake. As anything above 6 feet is deep. I entered the water for the first time with lot of excitement. Water was cold. It was not deep till the 25 meter then the depth started I was not able to keep my feet in the ground. Then I said to myself stop walking and start a small practice swim till 100 meters. It was a different scene as compared to the pool. The water was not clear, I was not able to see anything when I turned my face inside water during the swim. It was difficult for me as I never faced such water. I tried to swim till 50 meter but I was scared to go any further. I turned back and came back to the shore. I was scared and afraid of the lake just after my initial trial. I was worried and tensed about the event. Many questions like will I drown , will I drink water during the swim, will I be able to finish the race. Lot of negative questions were all over my mind. I was told by people we should not start negative before doing anything. But how to manage the fear and uncertainty.
When I was standing in the shore organizers called all the participants for an initial briefing about the event and the route. The route was fairly straightforward there will be buoy at every 50 meters. At 500 meters we have to take a u turn and come back the other way. I was slightly relieved to find there are buoys after every 50 meters. There will be few boats with lifeguards to help in case of emergency. The time was nearing and the whistle of the start was blown.
All the swimmers started entering the water and started their swim. Even I started. But the fear of open and green water started to hit me just after 25 meters. I was panicking and was breathing heavily. I tried to return back with the feeling of quitting. The moment I was turning back one guy was swimming with a black tube for someone else. I took a break for few seconds in water by holding onto the passing tube. Immediately the guy with the tube went away with the tube. I guess he was swimming with tube to support someone else. I was having two choices either to return back or proceed ahead with the swimming with more confidence.
I did the later I continued swimming. The more distance I covered the confidence that I will finish the swim increased. With every stroke and breathing I felt good. For major part of distance I did free style swimming and whenever I felt I was getting tired I switched to breast stroke style of swimming. At one moment I was not able to sync my breathing and stroke to handle that I did few back stroke swim. I didn’t think about the timing the only target of mine was to finish 1km distance in open water. When I reached the 500 m mark I was in joy. Half the battle is over only half is remaining. During the return journey couple of times the strap of my watch was out of the safety clamp it was hanging in the watch safety pin. If I would have not sensed about that my Garmin fenix 3 watch would have been sunk somewhere in deep water of Thonnur lake. But during the swim I somehow fastened the strap and saved my watch. After mixing my swim with multiple swim strokes I finished the 1km swim. Cherry on the top was I didn’t stop at any of the buoy in 50m. I did continuous swim without taking any break in between whatsoever. When I came out of the water a feeling of happiness engulfed me. I was not able to believe that I finished the open water swim without any problems. Even though the finish time (41 minutes) was not the best I was satisfied with my performance.
Volunteers garlanded me with the finisher medal. I met Nagaraj Harsha and Ajit Thandur. Nagaraj Harsha an Iron man and Ajit Thandur one of the organizers of the event. Took the opportunity to take pictures with them. Had breakfast of pongal. Returned back to Bangalore on the same day.
I would like to thank all the people who gave valuable inputs to me before the race. Especially Suman Singhi, Nitin Jain, Tim Tim Sharma.
Few take away during this phase
- Practice hard no matter how good you are at the task
- Ask for suggestions and help from experienced people in the field
- Never lose confidence in yourself
- Thank people for their help and suggestions
- Miracles happen be there to experience it
Moral : One of the most memorable journey of 1km open water swim in Thonnur
Small YouTube Video