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Ironman Kalmar Part One

Race report IM Kalmar - Swim

Oh, it's early in the morning, very very early in the morning... Well, at 3:45 we had the alarm set, took both a short shower, I filled my bike bottle, we had breakfast - rolls with PB-Jelly - and into the car we went for the 30-min drive to Kalmar. Actually a bit longer, because just out the street I missed my pre-made PB sandwiches I wanted to put onto the bike. Turned around, but they weren't visible in the room, so I grabbed the rolls left over from breakfast.

There were not too many athletes out yet, so parking was not too bad. Did I mention? parking an American car in European parking lots..... Oh well. I set up transition, doublechecked the blue bag for biking (b like blue or b like bike) and the red bg for running (get it - r like...) laid down a bit on the seside close to the swim start. Both of us had to wait a bit, but not really long. Of course there are pictures - they certainly will follow. They played the Swedish national anthem, said a blessing for the race (this old irish one which also says 'may the wind always be at your back".  Next thing I know - I put on my wet suit, swim cap, goggles, and got into the water. It was belly button deep, and people were supposed to self seed. I got me a space between 1:30 and 1:45 and eventually the pros started - and with a bang - also us.

The water was exactly like two days before. Visibility was ok, but this time I did the real thing which meant swimming farther out. And at the far buoy, waves came in - maybve 30-50cm high, obstructing the few onto fellow competitors and onto the buoys.  The race was a give and take of kicks, slaps, pushes. I have never had such a hubbub during the swim, not even in Coeur d'Alene, where I had to fix my goggles three times. Well, I did not have to fix the goggles, but evaded lots of breast stroking people wondering why not everyone could front crawl around the buoys. It's safer... Well, navigation worked out ok, nevertheless, and the turnaround boys were fairly large. But some water always splashed into my face whenever I breathed, and coordinating was a bit tougher...Around the far away part, back to the harbour walkway. A big buoy would have helped to find the way to the narrow part of the course - under the bridge.

Instead I oriented toward a sailing yacht lying there, and the blue polder buoy next to it. One round down, one to go. Same procedure, waves at the out part. Back in, same boat, through the bridge and then came the 500 somewhat m towards the finish. Suddenly the water was pitch black. Usually in lakes, even in the Neckar at the Heilbronn triathlon this year (earlier blog) one still sees a couple of cm far. Here one did not. Really not. The water  was so opaque, that my own arms, shoulders, hands became invisible to me. Not to mention other athletes. So the kicks now came from nowhere, but gratefully the field by now was a bit thinned out. It as somewhat creepy but well doable. Under a bridge the black-brown liquid became black. But then the swim-out became visible and off I jumped - onto shore. No strippers in Sweden, and also no transition tent volunteers. But lots and lots of people cheering along the course and along the swim exit.

Part Two to come.