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Vinyet Noguera took care of the open water swim leg when she entered the Garmin Barcelona Triathlon with her friends as a relay team. Here she reflects on the experience, and how it made her think back to her childhood by the sea. Words by Vinyet Noguera, photographs by Ian Walton.
Being the daughter of a fisherman, I have connected with the sea since I can remember. Long days at the beach waiting for my father to come back with his boat and join us for a while before we all returned home together. Those summer days, when every family activity involved boats, fishermen and delicious food.
I don’t recall learning how to swim; maybe it was something innate, or it just was too early to remember. But the fact is that without my realising, swimming became part of my life.
After several years of lonely training without a goal, this October I had the chance of participating in the swim leg of the Garmin Barcelona Triathlon in the team category with work friends. My home city. There was no better place to take up the challenge having just come back from living overseas.
The challenge wasn’t the 1.5 km distance but the sea currents, the orientation and keeping calm when other people were overtaking or swimming over the top. To think about the start of the race was simply scary. I do not think you are ever ready for your first race, it doesn’t matter how many people tell you to keep calm, swim at your own tempo and don’t get affected by the rest. Once the start tape falls to the sand all the swimmers around you run to the sea like mad people. I did the same!
In the first five minutes though, I paid for it. Already drained, with the whole race in front of me, two sentences were repeating inside my head over and over: keep swimming and this is not going to last forever…
By the first buoy I had refocused and had recovered a little from the adrenalin rush of the start. But now I had a swimmer next to me, swimming at the same speed. Every time I took air from my left side I could see him. Sometimes he was pushing ahead of me, sometimes it was myself pushing ahead. But his presence was making me lose concentration. I was losing myself again, when suddenly I remembered a tip given in an open water swimming DVD about swimming behind someone to get the benefit of them moving the water. This gave me some time to recover and to settle into the race. I was finally enjoying it.
Before long, I was on my own and double, triple, checking for the next buoy on the course. Then I realised the next buoy was the last, and all I had was the coast in front of me. The coast is quite a broad target though. Where did I have to go? I had noted two big white balloons as my marker, but where were they? I was too far away from the beach to see them clearly and it took me a while to find them. When I did I was back swimming at the same adrenalin fuelled pace as when I started the race. Now I welcomed the exhaustion. I could see the end.
The greatest feeling was to touch the sand with my hand and realise that I could finally hand over to my legs to do the hard work of getting out of the water. To see my family and friends was fantastic. It was amazing to see so many people supporting me while I was clumsily running over a slippery boardwalk.
Just before getting into the stadium, I could hear the sound of the timing chips beeping as they passed the detector, bearing witness to all my effort. I found an extra ounce of energy for a last sprint. My job was done. Almost. I had to make my way to the finish line where we would all cross as one team. A nice touch.
The Garmin Barcelona Triathlon was the bait for this fisherman’s daughter. I took it, and I know I will be back for more open water adventures.
You can see more of Ian’s photography at www.themusette.cc