With the end of my Master in June I was looking for a new challenge in my life and decided to take part in the Swedish Classics (Svensk klassiker in Swedish). The Swedish classics is a series of sports competitions to take part in during a year. I picked the girls/women classics, which is a bit easier than the classics since the distances to compete in are shorter. Since I started in July, my first event was Vansbrosimningen, a popular Open Water swimming competition.
I started to train in May in the swim hall in Borlänge together with my friend Jutta. In the end of June, we finally dared to jump into a lake and then in the river with our wet suits. The river was around 15 degrees cold so even with a wet suit it took some time to get used to the cold and especially the bare feet and hands were really cold in the beginning. Vansbrosimningen in the girls’ version is a competition over 1 km against the current in a river. I did not have that much time to prepare to swim in open water so I was really nervous on the day of the competition, especially since I was a bit sick and we had to walk all the way from collecting the start number at the arena to the start where I could see that some people had to give up and had to be taken care of by the medical staff.
Moreover, the walk to the start felt very long so I was a mental wreck when we arrived at the start. I was really happy that Jutta was with me who tried to calm me down. We were quite early so I could watch the procedures of gathering in your respective group, leaving the bag with your clothes in a car and joining the warm-up until each individual group was called to the start. When it was time for my group, I was almost relieved that the waiting time was over and after warming up we ran towards the water, where our armbands with our start number were scanned so the time started to count. The water was warmer than I expected so I could start swimming directly. I could easily cope with the speed of my group and started to stick with two girls who were swimming together. I could have been swimming faster but I wanted to spare my energy since I have never been swimming the competition before and had no clue if the current would become stronger and also feared to get tired early since I was not completely well. Jutta who walked next to the river later said that without me posing for pictures all the time I would for sure have been faster.
As soon as I started swimming I was really calm, the current did not feel too strong and the temperature of the water was good, around 17 degrees and there was a runway in the water the whole way with volunteers every few meters who were there for our safety as well as pepping us. Although it was a competition, the girls around me were really nice, we tried not to be in the way for each other, everybody was very fair and we talked and laughed on our way to the finish. I was glad that there was a sign every hundred meter after the five-hundred-meter sign so I knew how much distance was left. At the finish line our time was taken again and some volunteers helped us opening the suits, handed out our medals as well as giving us warm or cold drinks. Then we got our bags with our dry clothes and could take a warm shower which was really needed and a warm meal. I am happy that I did the competition although I was so nervous and it went really well. Next year I definitely aim for a better time being fitter and knowing the competition. If you are in Sweden and look for a challenge I can definitely recommend to try the swimming or even better the whole Swedish classics, it is a very nice competition. But now it is time for me to train 10 km running since this will be my next competition in September. Wish me luck!