Washington’s Crossing Swim Across the Potomac

Furthering my desperate attempts to gain open water swim experience, last week I bit the bullet and signed up to swim the inaugural Washington’s Crossing Swim Across the Potomac.  I talked D into swimming this with me.  She’s such a great sport.  It’s great to have friends who are game for pretty much any crazy endurance event, even when it’s swimming across a nasty polluted urban river in the heat of 105 degree summer.

This swim was put on by Wave One, the fabulous open water swim organization here in the Disco area.  Wave One sponsors weekly Thursday night Happy Hour swims, as well as a series of open water swim clinics for newbies and more experienced swimmers alike.

We kicked off the morning checking in at National Harbor.  All the swimmers loaded up on the water taxi the Miss Mallory, which ferried us across the might Potomac to the very spot where DC, MD, and VA all meet!  We all jumped off the boat one by one and treaded water until they sounded the horn to start us all off.

As soon as I jumped in, I knew it was going to be a doozy of a swim.  The water temperature was 88.2 when we started.  88.2 degrees!  Effectively, a bathtub.

After the 5 minutes of treading water, I was ready for a break.  And then it was time to start swimming.  OOOOF.

Our goal was to swim back to National Harbor, right towards The Awakening statue.

The total distance was “approximately” 2300 meters, or about 1.4 miles.  Prior to this race, the longest open water swim I’d ever done was the 1500 meters in an Oly tri, so this was no joke for me.

The approximately is a key word here…the race organizers warned us about the strong downstream current, but it was serious business.  I definitely didn’t take it into account nearly enough when sighting, so I ended up having to swim against the current pretty intensely in the final part of the race.

Because I had not sufficiently planned the night before and thus had to get myself together with pre-6am wakeup brain fog, I totally forgot my Garmin.  Rookie.  Mistake.  So I have no idea how long I actually swam.  GAH.

I actually really enjoyed the swim, felt strong, and didn’t even get bored until probably the last 600 meters or so.  That’s when I started having to swim totally against the current and the hot tubbiness of the water really started to get to me.  I kept thinking I should be feeling refreshed in the water, but it just felt heavy and sticky and gross.  Plus, the crowd had thinned out so far that I couldn’t see any other swimmers around, and I was convinced I was the last one out in the water all alone!!!

I swear the last 200 meters felt like a mile…I wasn’t sure which of the several white tents ahead of me I was supposed to be swimming towards until I finally rounded the last corner and saw several other bobbing bright yellow caps (phew!)  I kicked it as hard as I could to the finish line and couldn’t wait to climb up the ladder onto the dock and get under the coldish shower they had set up for us to rinse off.

My final time – 57:50.  A 2:30/100 meter pace (if in fact I only swam 2300 meters…which I doubt…)  D finished almost immediately after me and we were both happy to head home and take a real shower.  But we did of course have the foresight to snap a photo:

D looks adorable and I look like I’m afraid of being attacked by the famous Potomac River hermaphroditic fish.