Tag Archive | ows

Tsugaru Channel swim: the EPIC video

It’s been a while since I’ve written a blog post. I shall just say that 2018 has been an EPIC year for me. And hopefully I’ll get around to writing about some various highlight at some point before the year end.

But for the past 8 months of the year, I was swimming. A lot. I achieved a bucketlist item of swimming Tsugaru Channel (that body of water between Honshu and Hokkaido) and one of the Oceans Seven swims. I swam it as part of an international 3-person relay with two friends (also expats in Tokyo). And for the record, I’ve been trying to do this swim for the past 2-3 years and was never chosen for a slot. But at the end of 2017, I was finally notified of a last-minute slot for 2018 (I think due to someone else cancelling).

It was quite the journey in terms of training and build-up and the actual swim itself. Will eventually write an epic swim report, but for now, I will leave you with the EPIC video documenting our channel swim which we did on 19-20 July 2018. The film was shot and edited by my amazingly talented friend (and crew support on the swim) Matt.

For your viewing pleasure: (and yes, we really did this!)

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10km Caramoan open water swim race

This summer in August, I completed a 10km open water swim race. The location was remote but amazing. Set amongst the Caramoan islands – a location popular for filming Survivor (the reality TV show) around the world including a US series.

The race was a 10km island hopping swim. My first 10km in open water.

I finished. An official time of 4 hours and 16 minutes which was slower than I would have liked. A great swim though. Couldn’t have picked a better location to do this epic swim.

There’ll be more to write about on this later but here are some pics from the personal milestone and one of many more racecations.

Coming up onto the shore with a smile.

IMG_1252 Feels weird to be vertical: IMG_1251

IMG_1247 Action finishing shots: IMG_1245

IMG_1241 Feeling chuffed to have finished: IMG_1261

The Caramoan 10km swim challenge

IMG_1289 IMG_1283

I got second place female in my age group which I thought was pretty decent. Didn’t think my time was very decent but compared to the field, it wasn’t too bad.

IMG_1336

I hit the proverbial wall at 8km. The first 3km I did an an hour, and I thought I was on track for a 3.5 hour finish. That time lapsed and I aimed for a sub-four time. 4 hours passed and by then, it was just a matter of getting to the finish line. The last 2km took me over an hour. 8-10km was brutal with very little left in the tank. I hadn’t ever swum more than 8km in the open water before, so it was a first and a great personal achievement to even finish a 10km open water swim. Would like to get a few more under my belt.

Oiso 10km swim race – the motion video

You’re in for a treat. So normally, I would write a swim race report, but this time I have a real video for your viewing pleasure.

Last Saturday, I did a 10km swim race. In a pool. 20 laps of a 500m pool. Same race that I did 2 years. You might recall the <a href=”http://memoirsofaleisha.blog.com/2014/07/01/my-first-10km-swim-race-oiso-10km-swim-race/”>race report.</a>

The only difference since is that I’ve gotten older and slower. I managed a time that was about 40min slower than last time. Ugh.

The housemate finished before me so was able to get some footage of me. Mind you, the footage was taken at around the 8km and 9km mark, so I was literally ready to die. Body really struggled and it wasn’t pretty. But don’t take my word for it.

You can view it for yourself:

Ishigaki 5km OWS swim race

First open water swim race for the summer and the year was a 5k-er. The destination – idyllic. Water temp – too hot.

I had wanted to do an open water swim race in Okinawa for a while now – Japan’s answer to paradise. Ishigakijima did not disappoint. A really beautiful island for water lovers. Even managed to round a few friends to join not only the trip, but also the swim.

Headed down on the first flight on Thursday and spent Thursday and Friday sightseeing. Saturday May 30 was race day. It was a scorcher. In the mid-30 degrees, but felt closer to 40. And the water was like a bath. Ugh. Much too hot and uncomfortable for my liking.

The race was held at a beach off the ANA resort hotel.

From Ishigaki – 5km OWS
From Ishigaki – 5km OWS

This waterpark was probably going to be a lot more fun than a 5km swim:

From Ishigaki – 5km OWS

The water was so clean and clear, but oh so warm.

From Ishigaki – 5km OWS
From Ishigaki – 5km OWS

The course was 1.5km and required three laps and a bit to make up the 5km.

From Ishigaki – 5km OWS
From Ishigaki – 5km OWS

Three of us had signed up for the 5km swim.

Aquaholics Anonymous:

From Ishigaki – 5km OWS
From Ishigaki – 5km OWS

The boys were gonna be fast. Was also going to test out my brand new Garmin in my first open water swim race for the year. My goal time was to do it comfortably under 2 hours, anything around 1hour 45 I would be happy with. The last 5km swim race I did back in November without training, took me just over 2 hours to do. But since then I’ve gotten back into the training.

Ready and genki:

From Ishigaki – 5km OWS
From Ishigaki – 5km OWS

And we’re off:

From Ishigaki – 5km OWS
From Ishigaki – 5km OWS

The view from the water:

From Ishigaki – 5km OWS
From Ishigaki – 5km OWS

Scored some action pictures from the race organiser:

Me at the top in the pink cap:

From Ishigaki – 5km OWS

Me again – check out the high kick:

From Ishigaki – 5km OWS

This is cool action shot:

From Ishigaki – 5km OWS

Much of the swim was pretty shallow over reefs.

From Ishigaki – 5km OWS
From Ishigaki – 5km OWS
From Ishigaki – 5km OWS

Coming into the finish:

From Ishigaki – 5km OWS
From Ishigaki – 5km OWS
From Ishigaki – 5km OWS
From Ishigaki – 5km OWS
From Ishigaki – 5km OWS

Yay. Finished!

From Ishigaki – 5km OWS
From Ishigaki – 5km OWS
From Ishigaki – 5km OWS

Pleased to say I swam a time of 1 hour 40min which was on par with my expectations. Not overly fast but not bad for the first race of the season. Got to leave more fuel in the tank this year, as I have decided to do a 10km marathon open water swim.

I got first place in my age group for females, so not bad. Snared me a gold medal. It’s always nice to not go home empty handed. The boys also kicked arse. They took 2nd and 3rd place in the male age group with way faster times than me, both beating me by over 20 minutes.

Well done all round:

From Ishigaki – 5km OWS

As for the swim race itself – water was way too warm. Wetsuits definitely not required. It was also quite a shallow swim, as we swum over reefs. Got to see a few fish. Also a bit of a current, but all in all a decent swim. Course was a little tricky though with many overswimming the course. It was a 2.5km course, requiring 2 laps.
And much to my disappointment, something happened to my Garmin. Must have hit a button as a swum. Timing was pretty spot on, but it didn’t register the whole distance.

It was a fun swim to kick off the season:

From Ishigaki – 5km OWS

Niijima Open water swim (ows) again

Another belated swim race report from last year.
Race date: July 2015
Venue: Niijima island

You might recall that I did this race back in 2011. Back then it was the longest distance open water swim race I had done before. Since then I’ve done a few 5km, an 8km and a 10km race. I’ve pretty much gotten to a point where I usually don’t like to enter in swim races less than 4km. Am trying to do more endurance swims, but I’m still pretty slow.

Last year, we got a small posse to come to Niijima island for the swim race again. In addition, a small group of Aussies from the Brighton Icebergs also came to Japan to do this swim and I got to meet up with some them.

The Niijima swim once again involved getting an early jetboat ride from Tokyo to the island. Perhaps too early for some.
Here is everyone passed out or perhaps they are just conserving their energy.

From Niijima OWS 2015
From Niijima OWS 2015

Here we are wide awake!

From Niijima OWS 2015

We had rented a van for the six of us to make the most of weekend.

From Niijima OWS 2015
From Niijima OWS 2015

Again we were blessed with another beautiful hot sunny day. And the water conditions were good.

From Niijima OWS 2015
From Niijima OWS 2015
From Niijima OWS 2015

A beautiful day for a swim. And the water so clean and blue.

From Niijima OWS 2015
From Niijima OWS 2015
From Niijima OWS 2015
From Niijima OWS 2015

I like this particular race. It’s always well organised and entry fee includes refreshments and a free towel for every finisher.
The bananas this year even had messages of motivation which was a really cute touch.

From Niijima OWS 2015
From Niijima OWS 2015
From Niijima OWS 2015
From Niijima OWS 2015
From Niijima OWS 2015

Gaijin swimmers represent!

From Niijima OWS 2015
From Niijima OWS 2015
From Niijima OWS 2015
From Niijima OWS 2015
From Niijima OWS 2015
From Niijima OWS 2015
From Niijima OWS 2015

The race has a great atmosphere.

From Niijima OWS 2015
From Niijima OWS 2015
From Niijima OWS 2015

And yes, this is why we swim:

From Niijima OWS 2015
From Niijima OWS 2015
From Niijima OWS 2015
From Niijima OWS 2015

A cool close up of a grasshopper:

From Niijima OWS 2015
From Niijima OWS 2015

I did the 4.5km distance and my time was super slow. 1 hour, 49minutes. The last time I did this swim, I did it 1hr, 36min. I was 13 minutes slower.
Last year was not a great swimming year for me. In 2014, I ramped up my training to do some endurance swim races so last year I significantly cut back on swimming. This year, I am trying to ramp up again with my eyes on a couple of marathon races.

I’ve signed up for 4.5km swim race again this year on Niijima island and I’m hoping to improve on last year’s time. But I feel I’m getting slower as I get older.

Japan open water swimming race calendar 2016

Out of the goodness of my heart, I have compiled a translated list of open water swim races in Japan for 2016. This is mostly for the benefit of the foreigner community in Japan, who can’t navigate through Japanese. Also, there does not appear to be a consolidated list of open water swim races in Japan (even in Japanese), and I have scoured the Internet to compile this list of races all around Japan. Mind you, I’ve already done quite a fair chunk of the swims on the list over the last 5 years, so I kinda knew what was out there, plus found a bunch more as well. There are about 50 swim races to date around Japan with probably a few more to be released. Not all dates are confirmed yet as it still early in the season.

The list can be found on a Google docs I’ve created here. Please note that this is a working document and I will try to update it regularly as and when race dates become available.

I’ve compiled and translated all the necessary info for free as a community service. Please do not republish or rip off this list. Instead, please link to my blog. This will ensure good karma!

I’m more than happy to help people out if you’re interested in the open water swimming scene in Japan.

Cheers!

Katsuura open water swim

So, last year I didn’t get around to posting up any open water swim reports. But I did do about 5 or so races last year. Here is a belated account of the first open water swim race from last year.

Race date: 21 June, 2015.
The event was the Katsuura swim festa and the race was held at Moriya beach in Chiba. I had actually been to this beach before on a day trip where we SUPed and snorkeled.

From Katsuura OWS 2015

Race distance was a short one and I went with a couple of friends. We did the 1.5km swim (which was the longest distance on offer). Water was a cooler side, I think about 21 degrees. It was a bit fresh without a wetsuit.

Here are a bunch of pics from the day:

From Katsuura OWS 2015
From Katsuura OWS 2015

Conditions were decent enough:

From Katsuura OWS 2015
From Katsuura OWS 2015
From Katsuura OWS 2015
From Katsuura OWS 2015

Race course:

From Katsuura OWS 2015
From Katsuura OWS 2015
From Katsuura OWS 2015
From Katsuura OWS 2015
From Katsuura OWS 2015
From Katsuura OWS 2015

This was a slow swim for me. I’m not 100% sure, given that it was nearly a year ago, but I think my time was a shameful 45minutes for a 1.5km swim. Can’t be sure that is right though but it was the first race for the year and a cold one at that.

From Katsuura OWS 2015
From Katsuura OWS 2015
From Katsuura OWS 2015
From Katsuura OWS 2015

Overall a nice easy race doable from Tokyo. But yes, was a bit a cold and I was a bit out of practice. It’s always good to do a short distance swim to start off the season.

2015 Onjuku open water swim

Another year, another Onjuku swim. This one is tradition on the racing calendar with a decent enough following with fellow swimming friends. We had a small contingent of us turn up for this race, back in September last year.

It’s a 3.84km swim at Onjuku beach, one of the better beaches around and a favourite in the summer. Had also swum in the previous year.

It was a nice day for a swim with a good atmosphere:

From Onjuku ows
From Onjuku ows
From Onjuku ows
From Onjuku ows
From Onjuku ows
From Onjuku ows
From Onjuku ows
From Onjuku ows
From Onjuku ows
From Onjuku ows
From Onjuku ows
From Onjuku ows
From Onjuku ows

Water conditions weren’t great. There was lots of seaweed upon entry.

I have also spent quite a fair bit of time at Onjuku, and what was surprising this year was the amount of jellyfish out there. I was a bit worried and thought about pulling out when they had warned us of jellyfish. I thought I’d at least start the race.

Holy moly, I have never seen jellyfish this big. These were really big ugly jellyfish that were the size of soccerballs. It really was quite phenomenal. I, of course, got stung on the hand by a big one, but decided to still swim on. It was a bit of a tough race trying to dodge all the jellyfish. I always find the Onjuku course quite tough. It requires swimming into the ports at each of the beach.

My time was on the slow side and it was slower than last year as well. For 3.84km, my time was 1hr 31min. But ok considering I was stung badly on the wrist and had to actively dodge jellyfish for the rest of the race. Had never seen jellyfish so big and so ugly. They were nomura jellyfish.You should google them. Ugly things. I ended up getting quite a bad reaction from the water here and ended up with a rash. Last year was particularly bad for my swimming rashes. I get really bad allergic reactions.

Another funny thing about this swim was that both The housemate and I featured on the race promo poster! It was an action photo from the previous year’s race that was used for the 2015 event.
I’m the one that is basically stacking it in the water, yes, ever the clutz am I. We were able to score a few of these posters as well.

From Onjuku ows
From Onjuku ows

Will most likely enter this race again this year too.

Onjuku OWS 2014

I finally got to swim the Onjuku open water swim race.
I entered in this a few years back but it was cancelled because of a typhoon. They still sent us a race t-shirt though even though the race was cancelled. Wanted to do it last year as well but was back in Sydney when the race was on. So finally got to do one of the few Japan swim races left on my bucketlist.

Onjuku is a great beach. Probably one of the beaches most closest to an Aussie beach.
The swim was 3.84km but was a bit over 4km.

The swim was the entire length of the beach and swimming into each of the fishing ports on each end of the island.

Nice swim. Long though. A little bit choppy.
Sighting and navigation is still really difficult for me. I think I swim way more than I need to.

Was a good day out with a bunch of us doing various distances throughout the day. A handful of us did the 3.84km, a couple of others did the 1.5km and the guys did the relay as well.

My overall time was 1hr 25min for about 4km. Was happy it was under 90minutes but still a slow swim for me.

Check out this crab on a wall:

From Onjuku OWS

A great day for a swim:

From Onjuku OWS

Beautiful white sand beach:

From Onjuku OWS
From Onjuku OWS
From Onjuku OWS

Onjuku open water swim:

From Onjuku OWS
From Onjuku OWS
From Onjuku OWS
From Onjuku OWS
From Onjuku OWS
From Onjuku OWS
From Onjuku OWS
From Onjuku OWS

The course around the whole beach:

From Onjuku OWS
From Onjuku OWS
From Onjuku OWS
From Onjuku OWS
From Onjuku OWS

Lifeguards ready:

From Onjuku OWS
From Onjuku OWS
From Onjuku OWS
From Onjuku OWS
From Onjuku OWS
From Onjuku OWS
From Onjuku OWS
From Onjuku OWS
From Onjuku OWS
From Onjuku OWS

Post-race, enjoyed some SUPping!

From Onjuku OWS
From Onjuku OWS
From Onjuku OWS
From Onjuku OWS
From Onjuku OWS

Wipe out!

From Onjuku OWS
From Onjuku OWS
From Onjuku OWS

We tried to tandem SUP:

From Onjuku OWS
From Onjuku OWS
From Onjuku OWS

The end of summer.

Shonan 10km OWS: Race Report

My first DNF in a swim race.
Sadly, after 9 months of training and lot of hours spent in the pool, I was pulled from this 10km open water swim race.
Honestly, it was a race that I did not want to do. I refused on principle simply because of its location, but was talked into by the housemate. He’d done the race before a couple of years ago, and was prepared to do it again. The swim was a point to point swim – from Zushi beach to Enoshima beach in the Shonan Area. The last time I swam at Shonan, this happened to me. I vowed I would never swim in those waters again. Before you know it, I’ve gone and signed up for it.

This was to be my first actual open water marathon swim race. I’d already done an 8km ows, and a 10km pool race (which was probably about the equivalent of 8km in open water). This was going to be one reluctant swim. And 3.5 hours in which to do it.

Tough conditions this year though. I was stung by jellyfish, eaten alive by sea lice, and battled currents. I was unable to make a lot of ground. There was 1km cut off at 20minutes, and then another 5km cut off at 1hr 40min. Water was about 22-23 degrees but felt warmer.

From the get go, it was not a comfortable swim. I was getting stung by sea lice for much of the swim.
Despite being pulled from the swim, I still swam for about 2 hours. I think I got caught in currents and basically either kept going in circles or zigzagging between the buoys. Just shy of the 5km mark, I was stopped. I pleaded to continue, but a pack of us were put onto jetskis and then hauled onto boats. So for about 2 hours I had been swimming and had only covered about 4.5km of the course. I am taking solace in the fact that about over 25% of starters were pulled from the race or voluntarily retired from the race. There were about 100 non-finishers of those that started. The official statistic from the race organisers was that there was only a 73% finishing rate. It was a very tough race. I even know of someone who was pulled at 3.5 hours in. Disappointing for us. JC however did well and finished in just over 3 hours with a time of about 3hr 2min. His previous time for the same race was 2hr 36min. And JC is one of the top swimmers I know.

The race time limit was 3.5 hours. Last year everyone was within that time limit. This year, there were over 80 people with times between 3.5-4 hours, reflecting a much tougher race in tougher conditions. Well done to all those that finished. So many people bore the marks of jellyfish stings. You could see all the jellyfish and another nasty crap as we swam in the water. Do not swim in Shonan waters. Dirty, dirty, dirty.

So what’s it like to be pulled from a race?
I didn’t want to be pulled. I wanted to at least finish the race, no matter how long it took me. I knew I wasn’t yet at the 5km mark, but I also didn’t know how long I had been swimming for. When I was stopped, I had asked what the time was. Ugh. At that rate, I was going to be just over 4 hours. I still wanted to finish, coz at the end of the day, no one wants to retire voluntarily. I had spent months training, so many hours at the pool, paid over 20000yen for the race entry alone, had travelled all the way, gotten up really early to do the race etc. But a little part of me was also relieved, coz I was also suffering from bites and stings. At one point I couldn’t even kick properly because I had gotten stung between the upper thighs so that every time I kicked, it irritated. I basically did a waddle kick with my legs apart for a short while until the stinging wore off.

So we got dragged along in a jetski 2-3people at a time and then hauled onto a boat. There were a couple of packs of swimmers, and two boatloads of people at this time that were brought into shore. We were offered water, blankets etc. Handed in our ankle timer chips, and taken to the port. When we alighted from the boat, they had laid out over 30 pairs of thongs/flip flops for us (only in Japan ay), and provided us with some blankets for the walk back to the finish line where all our luggage bags were located.

I was gutted not to have finished, but it was an extremely tough race that would have taken me over the race time limit.
I don’t plan on a redemption swim for this particular race.

Am sporting a nasty itchy sea lice rash at the moment:

From Shonan 10km OWS
From Shonan 10km OWS
From Shonan 10km OWS

And that’s just the PG-rated photos.

Below is the pictorial race report:

Friday night-pre race registation centre:

From Shonan 10km OWS
From Shonan 10km OWS

I was amused on the race disclaimer, that in the absence of a hanko (name seal/stamp), they wanted us “foreigners” to give a fingerprint instead:

From Shonan 10km OWS
From Shonan 10km OWS

Because it was a point to point swim, it meant that all our gear was transported from the start line to the finish line. We were given race souvenir bags to put all our gear in. I had been worried about the size of the bags we would be given. I carry a lot of crap to races. The bag was satisfactorily spacious – 55cm x 45cm with backpack straps.

From Shonan 10km OWS

I even paid for a race t-shirt, and I didn’t get to finish the race:

From Shonan 10km OWS

Unfortunately, no finisher’s medal for me.

Weather forecast conditions:

From Shonan 10km OWS

Saturday morning:
Up very early to prep and fuel. It was a 7am registration kick off for a 9am swim start.

From Shonan 10km OWS
From Shonan 10km OWS

Conditions at Zushi beach looked deceptively calm:

From Shonan 10km OWS
From Shonan 10km OWS
From Shonan 10km OWS
From Shonan 10km OWS
From Shonan 10km OWS

We basically had to head for this island at Enoshima, but then swim into shore:

From Shonan 10km OWS
From Shonan 10km OWS
From Shonan 10km OWS

There were a lot of rescue and lifeguards on hand. It was a well supervised race – plenty of lifeguards, rescuers on paddles, jetskis, and boats out there.

From Shonan 10km OWS

The bouys were pretty much a km apart throughout the course, marked with numbers, counting down the remaining km’s.

From Shonan 10km OWS

Looking optimistic:

From Shonan 10km OWS

Warm up swim:

From Shonan 10km OWS
From Shonan 10km OWS
From Shonan 10km OWS
From Shonan 10km OWS
From Shonan 10km OWS

At the finish line: unfortunately I didn’t get to run across it:

From Shonan 10km OWS
From Shonan 10km OWS
From Shonan 10km OWS
From Shonan 10km OWS

Oh well.

Have another shorter swim this Saturday at a much cleaner beach. Let’s hope I make it to the finish line.