Tales of triathlon, travel, and trails

My First 100×100 swim

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I never knew there was such a thing as a 100×100 swim (for the non-swimmers, that means swimming 100 meters 100 times, so 10km total) until I started reading Hillary Biscay’s blog a couple years ago. It seems like she swims 100×100 every week! At least she does it for “big” occasions like birthdays, weddings, and New Years. I mean, running 10km is a good run and sometimes I even have a hard time running 10km. But swim that far? That’s only for the crazy Ultramen!!

I grew up always around water, our house was on Okanagan Lake. I never swam competitively so I just know how to swim from growing up in Canadian Red Cross swimming lessons (remember the colour badges?!), lifeguarding, and growing up on the lake.

After wondering for a couple years if I could even survive a 10km swim I had the hair-brained idea to attempt a New Years 2014/2015 100×100 on December 31. My last training session for 2014!

I haven’t swam much in the last year and a half because of the problem in having with chlorine – it makes me feel sick and nauseous. And I had one ~1500m swim with a friend in September that she somehow convinced me to join. So why I thought it would be a good idea to suddenly swim 10km I have no idea but that’s what happened.

I had no idea how long it would take me and frankly, I didn’t care. I had prepared myself to be at the pool as long as it took to finish. I wore my Team Betty swimsuit for inspiration and jumped in the pool.

I had also prepared myself for feeling tired and sore because I hadn’t been swimming but there were several things I hadn’t accounted for. The most debilitating was sea sickness. I am and always have been prone to motion sickness. I’ve puked in all types of moving vehicles throughout the years – cars, boats, planes, trains, roller coasters, and instead of “growing out of” this phase, it’s only become worse, especially on the water. It’s put a real cramp in my scuba diving style because I have a hard time with boat dives and if there’s too much movement when I’m in the water I end up feeding the fish my lunch.

So after about 5000m, I was tired as expected, but I also started feeling sick. I had to stop doing flip turns because basically doing a somersault every 25m was really messing me up. I had to start incorporating kick sets because I had to have my head still and above the water. Along the same lines, I had to start bilateral breathing. I’ve always been a bilateral breather because that’s how I learned to swim in Red Cross and as a lifeguard. It’s just when I lived in LA and swam Santa Monica masters under an Olympic coach who told me “Amy! Swim like a swimmer! Not a triathlete!”, which meant Olympic swimmers breathe one 1 side to get more oxygen. So since then, although I can breathe on either side, I breather every 2 strokes instead of 3. Except halfway through the 10km swim I had to breathe on both sides to try to stop the dizziness.

This was all about the same time that Trevor and Heather Wurtele arrived at the pool and Trevor asked to share my lane with me. I managed to pull myself together for a while longer, and of course, my monster swim outlasted theirs. The extra motivation of having Ironman Champions swimming beside me was awesome!

Soon enough I started on a downward trend of feeling worse and worse. At 8950m I had the distinct and awful feeling that I was going to puke. So I jumped out of the pool and ran into the bathroom, reaching the toilet just in time to “spew my guts, dude”. Gross. But afterward I felt much better, not quite like a million bucks, but pretty close, so I rallied and finished off the last 1050m.

I am very proud of myself for attempting and completing the 100×100 and for problem solving my issues along the way. I learned A LOT which will come in handy because I will be asked to swim it again at Camp in March. And I will do it better then! My biggest weapons next time will be the confidence that I CAN swim that far and a scopolamine patch.



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