A 1.86 k swim race and what over 40 km of self-powered travel over water in a weekend looks like

This weekend was a total convergence of awesome. B and S invited me up to B’s cottage in Honey Harbour for the long weekend. There was also a swim race at Kempenfest on Saturday that coach Ayesha told us about. I wanted to do both, but I didn’t want to bother B to have to boat me back to shore early on Saturday morning, only to pick me up again on Saturday afternoon. I considered borrowing their canoe, but without knowing the condition of everything I didn’t want to take a chance.

When B and S were driving up on Friday, I got a message from S about the kayak rental place along the way. I’ve been meaning to rent from them again for ages, so I gave them a call and reserved my fibreglass sea kayak for the weekend. Perfect.

Saturday morning I woke up super early and got my swim and cottage gear together, packing as light as possible. Unfortunately I had to include a MacBook Air so I could get some work done at the cottage [ugh]. The registration form said that marshal was at 9:00, and the race started at 10:00. I wasn’t sure what marshall was. I figured it was a pre-race meeting that we all had to be there for. Since I was worried about traffic (which there was a surprising amount of), I ended up getting to the race site at 8:30, even after making a few pit stops. It just gave me a lot of time to warm up, and make a half-dozen trips to the car to drop off whatever I wasn’t using. I had time to set my Garmin to auto-lap every 100m, so I could keep track on course, and when Ayesha showed up I got to see her warm-up routine. 

Soundtrack: Sam Roberts – Without a Map

The race its self was pretty fun. It was a diamond-shaped course, which was supposedly 500m between buoys. At the first buoy I realized that my sighting was actually pretty decent. My Garmin signalled 500m when I was just about 10m from the buoy. A lot of the swimmers seemed to be relatively unfamiliar with open water. There were a lot of swimmers who were zig zagging right in front of me. I’d draft one for a while, then they’d veer sharp the the right or left. I’d keep straight, then they’d pass right across from me in the other direction. I tried one of coach Kelvin’s rear-sighting techniques to make sure I hadn’t veered too far off-course, and I felt a lot more confident about where I was heading.

I passed the second buoy before my Garmin signalled 1000m. I was sure I must have missed a beep in some traffic, so I didn’t worry much about it. But when I rounded the third buoy I knew something was up. Around this point I felt like I was picking up the pace, but looking at the stats now, it looks like I actually slowed down a bit. The first quarter was fairly hard, the second and third were slower and more consistent, but the fourth… well I must have been fairly tired. Maybe sloppy. I was having trouble sighting, since I didn’t know exactly what I was aiming for on shore, so I think that had some to do with it. The last 150m were gold though. I actually picked up the pace and finished up strong.

On the map below you can see where the lap marker went off for me, and how the diamond shaped course was a bit truncated by the furthest buoy being too far toward the shore.


I wasn’t suprised that Ayesha finished third overall and first in her division, but I was very surprised that I got third in mine. I’m pretty sure it’s because there weren’t a whole lot of “seniors” (aged 25-39) there, because I don’t think a 2:03 pace is really worthy of a podium, but I’ll take it! It was pretty awesome to look at the plaques of past race winners to see Ayesha’s name there in 2008 too. It looks like to win I’ll have to shave about 10 minutes off my time, which might be a bit of a stretch, but I’ve got a long winter of training ahead of me, so you never know!



After a quick stop by MEC for a dry sack to make sure my MacBook didn’t drown, I picked up the kayak from Swift. Made it to the marina, dropped it off in the water, parked the car, and I was off to the cottage.

B’s family’s cottage is the perfect cottage in the perfect area. As always there was a great group of friends there, and what more can you say?After dropping off my gear I went for another swim, recovery drinks, waited a bit, had a couple Guinness (they’re technically light beers, so it’s totally fine), and passed out on the kitchen table. It was a long day.

The next morning I went for a 13k kayak trip around the area, including a stop at Beausoleil Island. It wasn’t too busy when I started, but by noon the boat traffic was in full force. There was one channel which had a lot of yachts going through. I wanted to avoid it the next day, but I got a little carried away.


When I got back I showed L’s son a bit about how to get around in the kayak, and I followed him swimming to the end of the bay. He picked it up quickly. At first I was swimming right beside him, but about 200m in he just left me behind. I thought I was supposed to be keeping an eye on him. After another homemade recovery drink (FTR, homo milk + sugar ≠ “white chocolate milk,” even if you plug your nose), I went out for another swim.

That night was a bit earlier, then I got out for another kayak. I looked on google maps for a quieter route, and found one long channel that ended near the 400. I followed it down, and it kept getting quieter and quieter. Eventually there were just two fishing boats in a small bay with a small channel back at the end. It was a small path through a marsh, but it was unbelievably quiet. No one around, just dragonflies.

Soundtrack: Radiohead – Codex

Excuse the shaking and low quality of the video. I was trying not to lose my balance swatting flies. I wasn’t sure if I could perform a self-rescue if I did manage to roll, and with no one around I was a little nervous about having to dredge through the marsh.

After that kayak excursion I did a quick wetsuit swim. I was actually pretty surprised how much faster I was in the wetsuit, and how sore my shoulders had gotten by this point. I went from about a 2:03 100m time to a quite respectible 1:48. That’s about a 15% improvement, which means I’ve got a lot of form work to do. I think I’m going to try to make a couple pool sessions before Ironman Muskoka.

Final totals for the weekend: 6800 m swim and 34 km in the kayak. Wow.

Here are a map overlay of all the swimming in the bay, and one of all the kayaking in the area. Too much awesome for one weekend.



Soundtrack for the drive home: Washed Out – Amor Fati

2 responses to “A 1.86 k swim race and what over 40 km of self-powered travel over water in a weekend looks like

  1. Trade you weekends. My shoulders are sore, but it’s from lugging boxes, not kayaking. Glad you at least had a gooder!! I didn’t realize that you’re doing Muskoka!

  2. That’s a very tempting trade, but I think I might have to pass on that. Good thing the weekend is already over! For Muskoka I’m only going to be doing the swim/bike, so it doesn’t *really* count. I’m going to look into turning it into a relay though, in case I can find someone who can do the run. 🙂

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