Canada Day Challenge

For the past few months E has been going to swim practice a couple times a week with the Canadian Dolphin Swim Club. I’ve never really known what goes on at practice, other than he swims in the fast lane and sometimes uses these bizarre looking hand paddles {something like these}. Oh and it’s also at the crack of dawn.

Our routine has been… he wakes up, makes a quick coffee, goes to swim practice, returns home at a reasonable waking up hour, wakes me up  and then makes us breakfast. I quite like swim practice! ;)

So anyways, he registered for Vancouver Open Water Swim Association’s Canada Day Challenge and I was excited to come along to cheer him on. To give you some background, the last swim race I was at was at Shelby Pool on Salt Spring Island in the 90’s. I also have at least 4,000 fears associated with swimming and that’s a whole other post I need to write.

One thing I do know is that the Rushton brothers {and their parents} are impeccable swimmers.

So on Canada Day morning, E picked me up bright and early to head out to Sasamat Lake for the race. He was pretty calm, cool and confident, none of that race day excitement/jitters that I’ve seen in him in the past.

I had absolutely no idea what to expect other than we’d be at the beach for the morning. We got down to the lake and there were a ton of people chatting away, finding a spot on the beach and getting their wetsuits on. Swim races are REALLY different than running races. Way more chill.

Each swimmer had to check in to get their swim cap and number written on them. If you were lucky, you also got Canadian flag tattoos! E was now in race mode. The next thing you know his wetsuit was on and he was in the water for a warm up. Swimmers warm up? Who knew.

The whole open water racing thing made me quite anxious. What if someone doesn’t make it out alive? What if someone gets lost in the weeds? What if someones arm hits another person in the face? Seriously. And then add on the fact that not only are they getting in the water and swimming around a buoy…. they are getting in the water and swimming FOUR FREAKING KILOMETRES. My gawd.


Start of the Men’s 4K

Men and women started at separate times, with the men kicking off the 4km race at 8:30am. They “lined up” and by lined up I mean got into the water and looked like they were in a group… and the next thing you knew they were off. I had no idea what was going on, other than I knew they needed to make two loops of the lake. E had brought along some binoculars so Graham and I took turns searching for him in the water.

I know that ‘fashion’ doesn’t matter in these types of things… but I’m very grateful that E’s wetsuit had blue arms. It made following along with his race SO much easier. He no doubt thought about that when he bought it. ;) 

From the very beginning we could tell that E was in the lead. I hung out on the beach with the camera, binoculars and a few of our friends. Some of the race event people were chatting about how E was leading… WHICH WAS EXCITING.

When I asked him how he thought he would do, he told me around 1 hour. I was smart enough to know that was far from the truth because I had 1) checked out all of the race results from the last 4 years and 2) been following along with his training times on Strava and knew he was going to finish faster than that.

What I wasn’t expecting was that he would be swimming alone throughout his race and that he was about to dominate the damn thing. :)

Graham saw him pass the beach as he headed into his 2nd loop and then we waited for his finish! In the meantime, the 2K finishers were starting to come into the finish line which was fun. Each swimmer has a different ‘get out of the water and run across the finish line’ strategy and it was entertaining to say the least. Am I allowed to say that? I just did. Also, wetsuits and goggles make everyone look hilarious. I loved it.

I’ve only been at a few of E’s races, but let me tell you… I am an amateur when it comes to getting the finish line photo. I just get so excited and it’s really hard to try and rah rah someone through a finish line AND get the perfect shot. So in conclusion, I missed it… again. But on a positive note, I got some good shots of Laurel, Mikey and E’s buddies, Rod and Dave. :)


E wins the 4K!

E finished first in the Men’s 4K in 48:19 {results are posted here}. Holy shit balls eh!!

I was so proud and excited and proud. Eeep super proud! I have no doubt that I was beaming. :)

When you cross the finish line, someone comes over to take off your timing chip and then you’re free to wander around the beach and do your thing. E wanted his wetsuit off immediately. Probably because he was about 1000 degrees. The heat was radiating off of him! He then went and chilled with his home boys from the Masters club.

I headed back to the finish line to capture Laurel and Mikey’s finish. I loved how spectators were just cheering from the beach and having a good time.

After all the distances were finished, the VOWSA crew put on a great awards show. Pretty much the top 3 of each race just walked across the sand to the designated spot and then they got sweet ribbons and a high five. Perhaps the high five was in my head, but you know what I mean!

Then everyone just stayed at the beach to enjoy the day or headed home. The swim community was so supportive, encouraging and welcoming. It was super fun to meet new people, learn a bit about E’s world and get a taste of something new.

This was my 1st appearance at an open water race and I doubt it will be my last. Thanks to VOWSA for putting on a great event… not that I have anything to measure it against but it was a 10/10 in my books! ;)

Interested in E’s experience at the race? Check it out here.

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