Big Tortuga 10k

timsroottimsroot Spring, TXCharter Member
edited November 2012 in General Discussion
The Big Tortuga will be the first 10k swim in Texas. Anyone else from here going to swim this, either solo or as part of a relay?


  • dc_in_sfdc_in_sf San FranciscoCharter Member
    I'll be there for the solo. The plan is to use it as my qualifier for the Rottnest Channel next year. - open water adventures of a very ordinary swimmer

  • timsroottimsroot Spring, TXCharter Member
    Had a good time yesterday, although after I got out of the water, the day got interesting.

    At about 9:15 yestarday morning, a field of 7 solo swimmers (one in a wetsuit) and 2 relays took off from Lake Conroe park in Montgomery, Texas for the first 10km swim in Texas. The water was about 70 degrees, maybe 72.

    The course was an out and back course, and the race director asked us to stay near the shore to stay out of the way of potential boat traffic, and hopefully be sheltered from some of the wind chop. There was a buoy at the start, and a buoy at the turnaround point, 5km away, so the race director couldn't really hold us to the far line.

    It was pretty flat in the cove where we started, but the wind was blowing 10-12 kn out of the SE. On the way out, the chop was tricky, but it was mostly behind us, so it wasn't too tough to deal with. Navigation was very hard, though. There weren't any intermediate bouys, and weren't many houses as we were swimming in the direction of the dam. My goggles kept fogging up because the water was so much colder than my face, so seeing much was tricky. There were some cranes that were taller than the tree line, but they were tricky to pick up, especially with my fogged up goggles. There were some taller radio towers further to the left that were closer, but between my foggy goggles, the lack of width to the towers, and the fact that they were mostly white against a pretty clear sky, they were also hard to pick up.

    Thankfully, as we kept turning, there were some distinctive houses to sight off of until I could pick up the buoy. When I made the buoy, I could tell how much of a push we were getting, so I eased off on the effort. I made the turn and took another feed. My kayaker asked me if I wanted to just get back, or try to stay near the sheltered water. I said, let's just get there.

    The good part, obviously, was that it would be a shorter swim. The bad part is, the chop would be trickier. I had noticed that during this 20 second or so conversation, I had noticed that I had drifted 10 yards or so further past the buoy. I picked a direction, and took off.

    I noticed that my kayaker had trouble keeping up with me because of the wind. He could hold pace with me, but if he stopped paddling, he had to work VERY hard to catch back up to me. My goggles kept fogging up, and he had me sighting off of communication towers. While I have gotten quite a bit better at swimming straight (which was helpful, since I was all but swimming blind), when I picked my head up to sight, it was easy to pick out the cranes instead of the towers I was supposed to be looking at. While I probably only fed once or twice on the way back, I probably cleared my goggles 3 or 4 times.

    I sighted off the tower longer than maybe I should have, but it helped me get back into a little calmer water. Certainly not flat, but better than it had been in the middle of the lake. Eventually, I picked up the buoy and came in for a finish of 2 hours 53 minutes. Given that my best time had been a 2:50:59, and this course, while short, was the hardest conditions I've probably ever swam in, I was very pleased with that time. And while 1 of the 2 relays beat me, the wetsuited swimmer, and one other girl (who has qualified for USS Open Water Nationals) beat me, I was the first male soloist to finish, by about 7 minutes.

    @dc_in_sf finished in 3:54 and got his Rottnest qualifier, too.

    After the race was done for me, things got interesting. First, the county constables wrote the race director and one of the relay escort boats up for having a boats in a restricted area.

    In the meantime, there was still one swimmer who hadn't come in. The race director had gone to get the turn buoy, so I had the watch and was noting finishing times. I had noticed them in the middle of the lake coming back, but as two other swimmers came in, I got distracted and lost sight of where they had gone.

    When the race director came back, he turned around and went looking for them. It took a while, and I was sitting and talking with the wife of the guy who was escorting the swimmer. Probably 30 minutes later, we got a call back from the race director that he had found the swimmer and the paddler, and she was very relieved. In probably another 20 minutes, everyone had come back to the park.

    Apparently, what had ended up happening was that the kayaker, due to the wind and the chop, had capsized the boat. He is an ironman finisher, so he was fine, and was able to get back in the boat. Unfortunately, when he capsized, he lost his phone in the water, so he couldn't call in for help. About this time, the swimmer had decided that she had had enough, so they headed to the closest land, which was the next inlet up.

    Thankfully, everything turned out okay.

    The race director said he's going to change some things for next year, but it was a good, low key, well run swim.
  • dc_in_sfdc_in_sf San FranciscoCharter Member
    Glad to hear that the other swimmer was found Tim!

    According to my GPS I hit mile 3 after 1h40m and about 100 yards after rounding the turn buoy. My kayaker and I decided to try and extend the route to get something closer to 10km, but mile 4 turned into real a hard slog straight into the wind so we turned for home. My kayaker had a heck of a time staying anywhere near me, and for the entire last mile was pretty much parked about 15 yards in front.

    I unfortunately managed to wipe the gps track instead of saving it, so can't checkout the route we took, but do remember the total distance was 6.37miles so cracked the 10km despite the funky course.

    I do think that I will give up on swimming with the gps though. When conditions are good then all it does is to remind me that I am on track. When conditions are bad it messes with my head.

    I had a fun time, while the conditions were not ideal, I was kind of glad of that, as it became a good training swim as well as a valid qualifier.

    Good to meet fellow forum member @timsroot as well :) - open water adventures of a very ordinary swimmer

  • WaterGirlWaterGirl Scottsdale, AZCharter Member
    Great job, guys! Sounds like a tough day.

    @dc_in_sf, I like to keep my GPS in the kayak, just so I can look at the track points afterward. I wouldn't want to see it during my swim either.

  • timsroottimsroot Spring, TXCharter Member
    Niek wrote:
    And those kayakers are there for the safety?
    Here in the Netherlands kayaks aren't considered safe escorts.

    Mostly for safety, partly to provide feeds. Depending on the type of body of water, my personal opinion is that they can be suitable escorts. The lake we swam on was an articificial lake (Lake Conroe is upstream of one of the dams on the San Jacinto River). There is a lot of pleasure boat traffic, but there's no commercial traffic, and there aren't very many boats that I would consider large. My kayak happened to be dark green and the paddler had a black paddle. I would have prefferred one of those (preferrably both) be bright, but I never felt in very much danger. Since my kakayer was hanging out behind me, I did ask him once to move closer, as I could hear (but not see) boat traffic around me.

    I don't have much basis to defend this, admittedly, but in general, I feel that kayaks can be safe escorts for swimmers on smaller bodies of water that don't have too much traffic. For a swim this small, asking everyone to have a motorized escort would make the event a non starter, more than likely.
  • i know this is hella old but i will be at the tortuga this weekend! 5k :( no 10k

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