I swam the Oceanman Benidorm: the Final and finished in 2 hours 46 mins. Among the World Championship participants, I placed 33rd out of 75 swimmers (10th of 19 in my category). Including all the participants in the Oceanman Open, I placed 58th out of 277 (17th of 75 in my category).
I’m quite happy with the swim, and even more so with how the whole weekend went:
I arrived in Benidorm on Saturday afternoon and was greeted, as expected, with the warm and sunny weather typical of southern Spain. I checked in to my hotel by the beach, and went to collect the swimmers’ welcome package (official swim cap, timing chip, etc.) at Mal Pas beach next to the Benidorm port.
Next thing, of course, was to test out the waters. I swam 1 km or so to loosen up, and to get a feel for the conditions – the water temperature, the waves, the saltiness, the visibility, etc. The water was cristal clear (visibility was at least 20 meters), and the temperature was perfect at 23 Celsius, but very salty. I saw some fish but no jellyfish.
In the evening I attended the technical briefing, and met up with fellow marathon swimmers from Munich, Ulrich (a.k.a. Rookie), and Nadja. We had dinner – or as we call it: we “loaded up on carbs” – at a nearby Italian resto, and called it a night.
The day of the swim started bright an early (6 am) with a substantial breakfast. I then made my way to the beach by 7 am, and started preparing for the swim, which was scheduled to start at 8 am.
The organization was one of the best I’ve seen – they even had a pre-start area, which reminded me of my times as a competitive swimmer.
The swim started at 8 as scheduled, i.e. before sunrise (that’s why the pictures before the start are blurry). About 20 mins into the swim, I saw the sun was coming up. What an awesome way to see a sunrise! Lucky for me, I breathe to the left when I swim crawl, and the sun came up while we were swimming due south, so I got to see a beautiful sunrise while swimming in the middle of the Mediterranean see.
Shortly after, we had enough light to see fish under water. This is pretty cool, as it breaks the monotony and takes your mind off the swim for a bit. However, I also did see a few jellyfish here and there. Most were 2-3 meters deep, so nothing to worry about.
The waves and swell were moderate (half a meter), and coming from east-south east, which did not bother me, other than the fact that they made it difficult to sight ahead and keep a true bearing.
After 1 hour, I made it to the feeding point a few meters from the island. I took one of those feeding gels and a bottle of water, and I continued on my way. Up to this point, the swim could not have been any better; I was in high spirits, and not tired. It was all going great.
After eating and drinking, we headed due west to start swimming around the island (counterclockwise). And here’s where the swim got a bit more complicated: the jellyfish were now closer to the surface, which meant I now needed to look ahead of me more often just to stay clear of them. This is not a big deal in clear water and a sunny day. But combined with the fact that we were now ‘on the back of the island’ and swimming head on against the direction of the swell… well, it became a bit tougher; it was definitely not as pleasant as the first hour. Fortunately, swimming round the island was fairly quick. After 30-45 minutes of somewhat rough swimming, I had circled the island and was heading back to shore.
In the home stretch, although the waves were not as bad as those ‘behind’ the island, they still bothered me a bit more than I had expected; nevertheless, I was still feeling strong. Then, a jellyfish grazed my ankle. I felt it immediately, but I knew I had gotten lucky because it was just a minor itch. It almost sort of helped me, since it took my mind off of the monotony of the swim again and got me thinking about other things – a marathon swimmer gets help where he/she can get it