As some of you might know, I love competing in and watching Surf Life Saving races. Georgia Miller is the current number 1 surf swimmer in the pro field. This 2022 'Summer of Surf' in Bondi was live-streamed on Facebook and even though the surf didn‘t deliver as hoped, it was great racing to watch with lots to learn.
Georgia Miller walked away with the win in the Open Female Swim Race. It was a tight race with not much between the top 10.
So what was it that got Georgia the win?
WATCH THE RACE BELOW
Let’s start with some observations across the field first.
From the start, all competitors attack the ocean in a race for clean water. You don’t want to be stuck behind or squashed between other swimmers. The winners in a swim race tend to be out front, or at least in the top 5, from the start.
Once it’s too deep to run or wade, the girls change to dolphin diving before swimming. This is the fastest way to get through shallow water.
How to Dolphin Dive?
Dive over the water, or underneath an oncoming wave. Make sure your arms are in a streamlined position and chuck your chin down to your chest.
Dive down to the bottom of the ocean and grab the sand to pull yourself forward. When there are waves, the water on top will push towards the beach. The water on the bottom rushes out back into the ocean, use this!
Now place your feet on the bottom of the ocean and push yourself up. Do this again with streamlined arms and your head down.
Once you’re at the top, take a breath and look up to see if there is another wave coming. Or if it’s flat like in this race, keep the dolphin diving going until it’s too deep. This is when you start swimming.
You might notice that there is definitely no beautiful high elbow swimming here. When swimming in the ocean with big or little waves it’s actually better to swing your arms high over the water. This way your arms don’t hit the water, which slows you down.
There is some serious kicking going on. These swim races are only ‘short’, about 300-400 meters. A good strong kick will help you to get out through waves and catch runners on the way back in.
Most of the competitors breathe 1:2, which means they breathe every other stroke. When kicking and swimming at this pace you need to suck oxygen in a bit more often than during a casual swim in the pool.
You’ll also see them sight quite often, especially the leaders. In the ocean there might be currents or waves pushing you in the wrong direction. You save a lot of time by swimming in a direct line around the cans.
My one question about this race is, why don’t either of the two leaders draft of the other? It can be a tricky game to play, as you rely on the leader to set the pace and keep the rest of the field away. But drafting behind another swimmer can save you a lot of energy. Naomi and Georgia are swimming next to each other all the way, both working super hard. If Naomi would’ve decided to draft behind Georgia on the way out, she might’ve had the energy to swim her on the way in.
Georgia for the win
In the end, it was Georgia’s determination and grit that got her the win. From the last turning can she gave it 100% on the way in and managed to swim away from the others. An amazing effort in a strong field of competitors.
To finish it off, I reckon Georgia got up at the perfect time and finished with a couple of dolphin dives. The others swam a little longer, giving Georgia the chance to run off and take a comfortable win after a tight race.
There is so much we can learn from watching these pros race! Comment below if there is anything else you picked up on.