USMS Open Water Recap

The USMS National Championships at Lake Del Valle in Livermore, CA was a huge success this past weekend. The entire event was well organized by the Tri-Valley Master’s Team. Conditions were nearly perfect and over 500 swimmers participated in either the 0.75 mile or 1.5 mile swims. It was a cold spring here in California and there was some concern that the lake would be a bit too cold for the race, but a hot spell last week warmed the water to a comfortable 68 degrees.

Sarah Baker, part of the FINIS Marketing Team and an avid swimmer, and I headed up the FINIS booth at the event where we able to demonstrate some of the FINIS technical products. It was a great opportunity to educate swimmers about how to use the Swimmer’s Snorkel or work on early vertical forearm with the Forearm Fulcrum. The participants also got a free pair of our brand new racing goggle, the Lightning.We even had the chance to participate in the event and compete along with the rest of the swimmers.

Sarah swam the 0.75 mile “warm-up” race, mixing in breaststroke to keep it interesting. I decided to be bold and try the 1.5 mile swim. This was only my 2nd open water swim and my first in a lake, so I wasn’t sure what to expect.

The start was split into different waves, which was good because even at 500 yards into the race there was still a huge crowd of swimmers thrashing, elbowing and grabbing each other around the first buoy. In fact, I found myself swimming with a big pack for almost the entire race; I heard many swimmers comment afterwards that they had never seen such a crowded race before.

Despite the discomfort of occasionally having a foot grabbed, I found the close proximity a bit comforting, mainly because I found navigating quite challenging! When I put my head down for prolonged periods of time, I found myself unknowingly drifting to the right. I was glad to have other swimmers to follow!

I eventually dragged myself out of the water and ran through the finish. I was happy to finish without having gotten too far off-course and with only a few bruises.

- Paul