Norseman 2016 – The 3.8 km swim

I’ll go straight to the swim and write the prologue later.

” Eye of the tiger „

On the 6th of August 2016 I woke up at 2am in the morning.

Probably got 4-5 hours of sleep but I was not tired when I woke up.

Got down to the kitchen and made myself some porridge with honey and coconut flakes.

Put my racing number tattoos on the legs and arms, and got dressed.

Felt like a pro with the tattoos 🙂

Like a pro!
Like a pro!

The check in was at 3am and walking up to the transition zone (T1) was magical.

It was bustling with so many athletes and support crews the tension in the air was epic.

Set up my bike and gave everything a quick check with Johannes and headed back to my cottage.

Johannes and I did some chit chat while I prepared some final things and the song Eye of the tiger was played to get us in the mood.

We headed back to the T1 zone and I checked in to get on the cargo boat to get everyone out to the swim start.

Only athletes were allowed on the boat so I said my goodbyes to Johannes.

boat
Boarding the ferry.

On the boat it was a mish mash of people chatting away and others sitting focused with headphones on.

I took a place and for 30 minutes probably did nothing until the guy next to me spoke up.

We started talking about our experience etc and the task at hand and then the call to get down to the start was announced.

With a bit of help from some other athlete I got my wetsuite zipped up. Went down to the cargobay and it was awesome to see all standing there with the bay door fully open.

One guy was spraying water from the fjord so I went there to get my body adapted to the cold water.

Did some warming up, fixed my googles and went up to the jump.

Looked out and hesitated as it was pretty high, around 3-4m. Which is not good as I have a fear of heights.

Thought ‘fuck it’ and jumped as it was now or never.

Managed to get my googles to stay on which was nice!

However, the water was cold and it took some time to get my breathing together.

Water temp was between 10 and 15 degrees celcius.

” All athletes started swimming „

Let me remind you, it’s just before 5am in the morning, It was almost pitch black!

Swam up to the starting points marked by canoes/kayaks. They had headlights so you could find them.

Purposely put myself in the back and slightly further away from the closest way as I did not want to fight and my swimming is poor.

Now I started to notice how high the waves were. I thought what the hell, this is a fjord there should not be waves.

Jumping into the fjord
Jumping into the fjord

TUUUUUUUUUUUUT!

The ships foghorn sounded out the start, and all athletes started swimming.

I think I got into a good pace and thought this will be doable. I just need to focus.

Passed some people and some people passed me. I could not find someones legs to follow as the visibility was zero in the water.

Looking up I could just barely see the mountain lining. But it became more visible as dawn was breaking.

The fastest way had been described to go close to the shoreline.

This because the tide was going the other way creating currents further out.

However the waves became double waves as they hit the rocks and pushed back on to all athletes again.

Same for everyone I thought, but after a while I started getting noxious.

Focus went from swimming to trying to keep myself together.

The cold was noticeable in my legs as they wanted to cramp sometimes. But with a few kicks I managed to straighten it out every time.

By now I could see small way points and decided that I must break my swim into small portions.

It worked great but every time I raised my head I could see that I was way behind everyone.

 

Then maybe 1.5km left of the swim I hit a really warm patch of water. It was super weird!

Getting that heat in my face made me really sick so I threw up 3 times.

So this is Ironman Kalmar all over again I thought 🙂

I had to swim some breaststrokes to get myself together but continued with regular crawl until I came to a buoy we had to pass.

Around this buoy it became super cold. They had warned us about it before and the waves got more intense.

Fought my last 500m alternating crawl and breaststrokes and when I was pulled up by a Norseman crew member I realized I made it.

I was freaking happy I had managed the swim as this had been my nemesis since I got the slot to Norseman.

So much fear about having to quit during the swim because of the cold or cramps was now over.

Johannes met me and brought me to my bike.

” I said no „

We had a plan on what to do in T1, and I think we followed it quite alright.

Except one thing. I was so cold my body and muscles started shaking badly.

I had no control and started laughing at myself. It was bizarre to see my body acting like that and I could not do anything about it.

One in the audience saw me and sent me a PM on facebook later on:

“Congratulations to completing Norseman…I have to say that you really got back after the swim. I’ve never seen anyone being so cold as you were. Shaking in the arms and the legs, I’m impressed!!”.

A PM from a Norwegian to me after the race
A PM from a Norwegian to me after the race

The support crew next to me offered some coffee and I took a sip, it tasted heavenly!

Johannes asked me if I would quit but I said no.

I knew that after about 10km on the bike the ascent would get me my warmth back, so I just had to endure.

Grabbed my bike and continued out from T1.

When I passed the control point I think there was supposedly someone that should shout what place in the race I had, but I did not hear anything.

But seeing that there were few bikes left in T1 made me understand that I was probably way over place 200.

NOTE: My split time was 1h 42min and 17s and this actually put me in 201st place!

The goals I had for the swim were as follow:

  1. Complete the swim under 1h 20min
  2. Complete the swim below 1h 30min
  3. Complete the swim at all

The cold, the tide and the waves were very much contributing to only making goal nr3.

However I should have prepared much more for the swim and simply put, lesson learned.

Stay tuned for the upcoming post about the bike leg!

 

 

 

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