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“That kind of freaked me out,” she says.
In the pool, it’s man against man in a controlled setting. In open-water swimming, it’s man against man and nature.
No pristine water with black lines clearly visible below for Balazs and Weinberger.
Balazs, from Toronto, and Victoria’s Weinberger have raced in water so murky they couldn’t see their hands in front of their faces.
While that may have kept Weinberger from witnessing any “Wild Kingdom” moments, the 22-year-old isn’t sure ignorance is bliss. Sometimes imagination is worse.
Marathon swimmers often can’t see where they’re going with their heads in the water, so they lift their heads up to grab both a breath and their bearings.
“We try to incorporate breaths up front, lift our heads up almost like a water polo player,” Balazs explains. “We just don’t keep our heads up. You lift up, look where you’re going and put it back down.
“There’s usually someone in front of you that you can follow and if they go off course, then we all go off course, so no one is really gaining anything.”
“One of the big things I say to the young kids is ‘Don’t swim alone,'” Jacks explains. “When there’s 10 or 12 people navigating, the tendency is to be pretty straight. If there’s one person navigating, you can be off.
In opaque water, it’s difficult finding the most efficient line from start to finish, even with a boat guiding the swimmers. Going just a few metres off course adds unwanted distance to an already long swim.
“It happens all the time,” Weinberger says. “That’s the brilliant part of open-water swimming. Anything can happen. You have to deal with currents, waves, swells, boat waves.”
It also takes the swimmers’ minds off any fish-on-fish drama.
“I’m actually scared of open water,” Balazs confesses.