By Verónica Morano | view profile
On a sunny but rather cool day for early December, 2018 San Pedro Open Water Swimming calls on a great number of swimmers for the 3k and 8k competition.
The organization has the required staff to assist the swimmers who are arriving from different parts within Buenos Aires and inland.
While waiting for the warm-up talk, there begins preparations for the 436 swimmers participating in the long race first. The sun is beginning to warm up more intensely. Bodies are getting some air in the hope to be embraced by those healthy rays of sunlight, while some of us are smearing aceite esmeralda (anti-inflammatory, antirheumatic, and muscle-activating oil), vaseline and sunscreen lotion as well as finishing off the last sips of isotonic beverages and gobbling down small portions of carbohydrates and fruit.
A dozen of swimmers@Swimmers are encircling the stand packed with swimming products and with some gadgets only for those in the know.
We get on the buses which will be leaving us at the starting point. I am always surprised to watch the scenario of us travelling in scarce centimetres of anticloro fabric, naked torsos and barefooted. Being such a sight, some know-it-all swimmers sing the praises of previous sport feats and talk about paperwork at the department of motor vehicles - and they even discuss the wounds resulting from the Boca-River failed football match. And there the road trip goes and we get to the starting point in the stream of quiet waters which is at right angles to the tributary of Paraná River. The cool wind still lurches; and although curiosity is eating us alive because we want to know the temperature of the water, some of us choose to get surprised the very moment we dive into the river.
Ready to take a big leap forward, we start waking up our muscles gently. We wave our hands to a dron in the sky which is capturing every detail as we laugh at jokes to release tension, or as we chat on the pathetic tattoos we would never get done in our lives.
The competition consists of only one general start which is never on time and turns overly chaotic. Gathered in limited space, with goggles on, playlist ready and adrenaline to the fullest, hundreds of swimmers are ready to gobble up the river before the siren sets the right moment to sound.
The anticipated departure of some swimmers ends up delaying the moment for a fair-play start of the race. Anyway, all goes wild and the first strokes are propelled out of anxiety and the current of the river itself in the same way as blows and kicks to find space to start stroking once and for all.
Each of us recalls inspirational songs, but all kinds of thoughts crop up in a more-than-one-hour swimming as well: people we have not seen for so long and slip through our mind and those who are with us when arriving home and training – those are all who think about us doing the effort, kicking without bending the knees, head down when we stop breathing ahead to find guidance in the ones who are leading the race.
We all happily notice that the water temperature will not be a setback, and we start enjoying nature while being delighted for our boldness, for the challenge of bettering ourselves, and for feeling alive.
We look for the centre in the river, we focus on our race plan, on the expected time, on the cadence. The body recalls the training sessions and the brain command shoots to get to the expected pace. We feel the effort and we start our way to find the race pace which will finally take us to our destination.
Breathing every other three, you can notice that the Paraná River bank offers unalike landscapes – at times, it turns so narrow that we are one of top of the other until we become one with the rest; others, it stretches out and we can slide comfortably along. It always turns out to be a beautiful experience in this sport to find a couple of swimmers to slide along with all the way to the finish line; or to spot a cap for guidance and eventually be able to overtake in the last stretch of the race.
New and seasoned swimmers along this route know that the ship museum – moored on the right bank – marks the remaining one thousand metres before turning towards the yatch club for the last stretch of calm waters.
The display of the inflatable arch rouses the joy that lets your heart run. We do our very best in this lovely final sprint so many times rehearsed. It is a curiosly funny feeling in which, on the one hand, yearning invites us to put an end to our daring effort; and, on the other hand, we long to hold that glorious moment of joy for having reached the goal.
Feet on dry land, we look for that healing hug to reduce our beats and to redeem us from weariness and a hard training year. We then taste the local seasonal fruit looking forward to the awarding of prizes. The remains of the afternoon goes by among friends who make us enjoy the achievement and forget hardships and weariness.
Thank you @Estelares for accompanying me all the race!