In less than three months, I’ll compete in my third triathlon. As a marathon runner, the 5k portion of the sprint triathlon is not at all intimidating. The cycling and swimming portions are a different matter, however. Thankfully, I’ve had the unique opportunity to practice cycling in the country that knows it best: The Netherlands. I’ve honed my “defensive” cycling skills, learning how to dodge traffic (pedestrian and fellow cyclists mostly), I’ve sharpened my problem-solving skills (Dutch bike are robust but with daily use issues are inevitable), and I have simply (and probably most importantly) spent more time getting comfortable in the saddle.
But where the Netherlands offers excelling cycling opportunities, chances to practice open water swimming are slim. The clear Adriatic waters in Croatia were a welcome opportunity to get some real open water practice in. The best swimming I found was on the island of Mljet, an enchanting place where lavender grows wild, tiny yellow butterflies flit about the salty air, and where, supposedly, Odysseus spent seven years in the arms of Calypso. The island contains a salt water “lake” that provides warm waters and perfect, peaceful swimming.
I have a lot more swimming practice to go, but swimming in Croatia has certainly helped calm my nerves about swimming in open water. After all, a dip in the crystal waters of Mljet demands that one stop, take a deep breath, and enjoy the moment. When I plunge into the cold waters of the Finger Lakes in upstate New York for triathlon #3 this fall, I’m going to hold on to the memory of the salty Adriatic for as long as I can!
Vidimo se uskoro!