June 28, 2018
Recap of Open Water Junior Nationals
In the Words of Natalia Rongione
On the night of May 2, 2018 I headed to Dulles airport and boarded a plane going to Tempe, Arizona for my first open water meet. I was going to Open Water Junior Nationals to swim a 5k at Tempe town lake, which was filled with a lot of algae, dead fish, and was very green. I was nervous to swim my first open water meet, but I was also excited because I felt like I was ready to swim fast. The two days before my race, I swam a couple of laps around the course, thought about a race plan, and I explored nearby Scottsdale. The night before my race, my parents and I went to a technical meeting where the rules were explained and I got my numbers tattooed on. I had no clue what to expect during the race, but I was hoping for the best!
On Saturday, I woke up early to get ready for my race. I had a little bit to eat, drank a lot of water, and I headed down to the lake for a warmup. The first thing I had to do was check in, get my nails checked, then get watch timers fitted on my wrist. After that, I swam in the water for about twenty minutes, then I got out to tape my cap so that it wouldn’t come off, and I put on some Vaseline around my suit. About fifteen minutes before my race I headed towards the tent where all the swimmers had a briefing about the conditions, and our names were called before we got to the water. All of the swimmers lined up on a rope, the air horn was blown, and it was time to start. The start was the hardest part because everyone was clumped together, but eventually I made it to the front. Most of the race was choppy, and I was mostly by myself besides when I was passing people. Finally after an hour of swimming, I made my way towards the finish with all I had left. To finish, I had to slap a board at the end, which I was afraid that I would miss because I’m so small. Luckily, I didn’t see any dead fish while I was swimming and I never felt anything swim by me, so overall I decided that I wanted to do open water again! I dragged myself out of the water happy that the hard three miles were over, and a while later after everyone finished was the medal ceremony. The next morning, I got ready to head back home to tell everyone about all the dead fish I saw. I really enjoyed this experience and I can’t wait to do an open water race again next year!