Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Thailand Swimathon (Pattaya) 10km on 9 Dec 2018

The best swim event on the planet

Every year (4 Dec 2016, 2 Dec 2017), I sing the praises of this event, that it is the best swim event going. I have ran out of words but the usual high standards have been maintained, if anything it has got better.
The effort put in by the volunteer Organising Committee every year is incredible. Swimmers get way more value than what they paid for. I hope Malaysia will get to their high standards. We are getting there actually. Our Swimon has a very good group helping it.
The main organisers, Golf and Sgt O
The number of participants in 2018 jumped with many new overseas' swimmers from Korea, Japan, Russia, Bali and Malaysia. The usual number from Spain and Singapore was still there.

The best bit is that, the vast majority of swimmers (275) opted for the longest distance (10km). Very few took part in the 6km, 2km and 1km distances. Many first timers came for the 10km and as far as I can tell, all finished. Compare this with the very high recent Did Not Finish rates at  Pulau Perhentian 16km (30%), Oceanman Langkawi 10km (35%) and Oceanman Krabi 10km (48%). The easy and friendly course format (10 x 1km) at Pattaya is the way to go in our part of the world as swimmers are still not ready to cope with the tough choppy courses.
The dates for 2019 have been confirmed, 7 and 8 Dec 2019. Registration will be open soon. Follow the Thailand Swimathon Facebook page please for updates.
Why its so good?
  • The Thai Demeanour. They smile and are gentle in their demeanour. All Thai people (immigration officials, car rental staff, airport security, race staff, race announcers, swimmers etc) smile easily and are nice to visitors. I know, I married one.
  • The exhilarating course format. 500m out, 500m back, hit the beach (repeat 10 times). You are on a "high" throughout the 10km swim with swimmers always around you, no time to be bored, not even for one second.
    Stretch your legs every one km
  • The best bit is that your wife, loved ones get to see you every one km. They feel a part of the race. Otherwise, its "I didn't see you honey. Where were you"?
    Simple but exciting course format
  • Every one km, the swimmer is back on the beach. They can bask in the atmosphere, pose for photos, eat and drink or transit as fast as they can. Its up to the respective swimmer.
    Quick feed every one km
  • Very safe course. Our part of the world is not really ready for the tough 5km out and 5km back type of course. Our swimmers are still new to Open Water Swimming. When the course is choppy (like Krabi), then about half won't finish.
  • But when the swim is completely in sheltered waters, food and drinks every 1km, support kayaks and jet skis always in plain sight, rest tubes the whole 500m! Well an easy and safe course is exactly what swimmers want. First time 10km swimmers came in large numbers. You know what? They all finished and with a big smile.
  • The Safety Crew is the Royal Thai Navy.
  • Thousands of free quality photos. Hundreds and then thousands of quality photographs were uploaded from the day before and during the day of the event. The same expert photographer from the Royal Thai Navy volunteers every year. He has a team of photographers and drones in support.
  • Quality T shirt for all participants. I like the feel of the T shirt and it's design.
    Korea proudly wearing the event T shirt and medal
  • Quality Hoodie Sweat shirt for all 10km finishers. This must be the only event that gives this to finishers. I'm sure many hang in during the tough moments just to get this hoodie. I have three now.
    The highly coveted Finisher's Hoodie
  • Awards party. Free beer and simple food. Everyone has a smile, even Malaysians. Malaysia Boleh!!
    Brilliant party
  • Cheap official hotel. Carunda Hotel is quite new and has a nice pool. Slightly out of the way.
  • Preecha Seafood. Very close to the race venue. The best value, the best fresh seafood on the planet.
  • Prompt and accurate results with lap breakdown. The FULL RESULTS
My Race
275 or so swimmers started the 10km at 6.30 a.m. sharp. It was a rough and tumble (but not dangerous) start, only slightly less hectic than the start at the Hawaii Ironman World Championships. My heart quickly felt stressed and I slowed down immediately. I kept on slowing down, weary that I might get another heart attack like the one on 18 Dec 2016.
275 swimmers for the 10km
I didn't stop for refreshments after Lap No 1 as it was only 20 minutes into the race. I did stop for refreshments after each subsequent lap, doing it as fast as I could. Looking at the detailed lap results now, I noticed that one saves at least 30 seconds for not taking refreshments. I will seriously consider missing another refreshment stop next year.
After Lap 2, I was swimming with my expected rivals (Tim Johnson, Shauqie Aziz etc) so I was relieved that I had not been left behind. A Russian female swimmer and probably Alyze Ooi weas also in our pack. In long distance swimming, once you have settled into a pace, the pack will probably stay together right until the end.
The Russian lady had a very nice stroke. High finger tip entry and the body build of an accomplished ultra swimmer.

Accurate results with lap breakdown (this is mine)
 It was an exhilarating feeling swimming at probably the fastest speed I have ever done for 10km. The course was full of swimmers. Some were very slow and we either went inside or outside of them. Some 10km and 6km swimmers were faster than us and they did the same to us.
Then before you knew it, you were back at the beach. My wife very excitedly counted the number of laps I had done. Kids screamed as their parents emerged. Stepping on the beach every one km is a very good race format for keeping supporters engaged.
Sea conditions were the best at Pattaya so far. It rained during the night, which meant the course was completely calm on race morning. Even the race tubes kept a perfectly straight line throughout the day, unlike previous years.
At about Lap No. 7 is when the "boys get separated from the men". This is when tiredness sets in. Most started to take longer breaks on the beach. I told myself it was time to go for it and it worked. We seemed to use new muscle groups and actually picked up speed the last few laps.
At the finish, I  had beaten all my rivals except Alyze Ooi. A new course PB. I was very happy.
Job done

Congratulations to the many first timers who have now completed their first 10km swim. I'm sure they are very pleased with themselves. Well done and thank you to the Organisers for making it possible.

Don't miss this event, ever!!

Thank you

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