Monday, 20 February 2012

Argentina Grand Prix Races and the 2012 Australian Open Water Championships

Wow what a busy few weeks it’s been. I went to Argentina to compete in the world’s two longest marathons swims. The Santa Fe – Coronda Grand Prix (57km) and the Hernandarias – Parana Grand Prix (88km).  After that I flew back to Australia to compete in our Australian Open Water Nationals in Perth.

One week before I left for my Argentina trip my friend Pilar Geijo emailed me with a few tips and advice. One of the tips was that I need to be very flexible with things in Argentina. I didn’t fully understand what she meant by that at the time but now I look back and can see it was some of the best advice I’d ever been given.

Below is a picture of the pool we trained in the days leading up to the first race. Needless to say my FINIS snorkel was given a solid work out that week, as there was no way I was opening my mouth in that water. When I touched the bottom of the pool with my feet, all I could feel was slime. I'll never complain about the Lawnton pool being dirty again after having to swim in that...

Training pool in Santa Fe

The first race I had over there was the Santa Fe- Coronda 1.5km sprint race. These sprint races are put on to get the city excited about the main race and to keep the sponsors of the race happy. The race came down to a sprint finish between me and an Argentinian. I had a feeling I'd touched first though all the organisers said the Argentinian had touch before me. Fortunately for me one of the Russian coaches had taped the finish and it showed I'd touched first. When the organisers saw the video they too agreed I'd touched first, then they went and had a little meeting. When they returned they told me 'we are changing it to the swimmer who swam under the touch pad first wins and that was the Argentinian'... Now I was starting to realise what ‘be flexible’ meant.

In the Santa Fe - Coronda Grand Prix (57km) race I finished 5th in a time of 8 hours 36 minutes, only 12 seconds behind first place. With three hours to go in this race I made a few silly mistakes that took away from my sprint at the end. It pains me to think what could have been had I just stayed patient. I really learnt a lot from this race though and I don't think I’ll never make the same mistakes again.

During the Sant Fe- Coronda race

Above is a picture during the race. As you can see the water is very brown, you couldn't see anything when you had your head under the water, just black. A few of my competitors say they prefer the water being brown as if it was clear you'd be able to see all the creatures that you're really swimming with, if people could see what was is in those rivers they'd never get in it. Also in these rivers there are so many germs and bacteria. I, along with many of the other competitors, picked up bad gastro after the race. I was running to the toilet every hour, this lasted about three days until I saw a doctor that gave me some gastro pills. Thank god they worked!

My next race was the Hernandarias - Parana 1.5km sprint race. After everything that went down the week before in the sprint race I decided I had to win comfortably just to make sure there would be no rule changes or confusion at the end. I won this race by 23 seconds…

Two days later was meant to be the Herandarias- Parana Grand Prix (88km) race. The organizers had waited till everyone had gotten there togs on and greased up before they told us the race would not be swam that morning due to bad weather. To make things worse I even missed my sister’s wedding back in Australia so I could say I’d competed in the world’s longest marathon, ouch!

At dinner that night we were told tomorrow we’d be racing an alternative 5km race instead of the 88km race, it would not be worth any Fina points and the prize purse would be going from $20,000 down to $7000... When I quizzed the organizer about why the prize money was being cut he was very quick to say if we wanted to complain he'd cancel the race all together...  Again I keep remembering what Pilar had told me, be flexible! I ended up winning the 5km race by 9 seconds...

Presentation for the Hernandarias – Parana alternative 5km race

The promotitional girls - who didn't speak a word of english!

Being the world’s two longest professional marathon races you’d think the prize money would be some of the biggest or of an equal value right? They’re actually the two lowest paid races on the circuit. Unfortunately the water safety in both these races were non-existent. There was no one making sure the escort boats or spectator boats kept a safe distance from the swimmers during either of the races. At times boats were running into swimmers and nothing was done about it. This is why unless big changes are made I can’t see myself going back. It’s not worth risking my life and safety doing these races for very little reward.
While I was in Argentina I had Pilar’s father Mario Geijo as my coach/feeder/translator/taxi driver/roomie and tour guide. He was fantastic and did absolutely everything for me. Below is a Picture of Mario (the guy with the beard)!

Ian, Trent, Mario and Alex

I got back to Brisbane on the 11th of February then flew to Perth four days later for our 2012 Australian Open Water Championships. After returning home from Argentina I was feeling very run down and swimming our nationals was honestly the last thing I felt like doing. My body was screaming at me for a rest but I already had my flights and accommodation booked so I decided to race. I had nothing to lose anyway as there were no big teams being picked this year so we’d just be racing for Australian titles.

In the 10km race my mate Richard Weinberger from Canada broke away at the 5km mark. I chased as hard as I could for a good 1200m but Richard and the other two that managed to catch up to him were only increasing their lead. At this point I turned to see how many guys were on me and to my surprise there were still about ten. I had two choices. Pull the pin and swim easy the rest of the way to save my energy to try and win the 5km the next day or keep slogging away to fight it out with the ten other guys behind me for fourth place? I decided to pull the pin and swim easy. There was no use fighting it out with the other guys, my body was to run down. The next day in the 5km race while I didn’t win, I came in second…

Yasunari, Rhys, Jarrad and Trent

I have to congratulate all my team mates on their great performances too. Our club only had four swimmers competing and we still managed to place in the top ten clubs. Special mention to Zanatta Lovi. She’s one of my training partners and won the 14 year old girls 5km race by about 100 meters, in only her second ever open water race, remember her name. Also big thanks to Dean Sullivan (my physio) for making the time to come over to Perth with team Lawnton to sort out all our aches and pains.

Now I’m on my break and it’s going great, it’s good to have some time off to just relax every now and then. Tomorrow I’m getting a small surgery on my arm and I’ll be back in the water again next week training hard for my next lot of races I have coming up!

Sweat plus sacrifice equals success - (Charlie Finley)


Trent Grimsey