Organized by Betsy Medalla (aka Swim Junkie), the Caramoan 10 KM Swim Challenge featured a route around the idyllic Caramoan Peninsula in the province of Camarines Sur. In this event, participants can join a 5KM or 10KM distance. With clusters of islands close to each other, about 1KM-1.5KM apart, it is an ideal venue for an open water event!
|My sister on top of a rock formation in Matukad Island, Caramoan|
Two days before the swim, I traveled by land to Naga with my brother, sister and cousin, who came along to cheer and explore Caramoan. We left Manila at around 11:00 PM. With my brother driving, I served as the navigator and that meant being awake the entire evening. By the time we arrived in Naga, after 10 hours on the road, my throat felt scratchy, cold began to set in.
|Welcome banner approaching CWC where we claimed our race kits. Seeing this made me|
think, "What was I doing here?!".
Caramoan was another 3+ hour drive so we decided spend a night in Naga and eat. We're a family of foodies and with plenty of options for a good meal, it's a must visit.
The next day, my colds got worse. Decolgen helped and I actually felt better when we arrived in Caramoan around noon. After arranging a boat at the resort, I joined my family for island hopping and to check out the race course. We just had enough time to go around three islands, Lahos, Matukad and Cagbalinad before we had to get back to Gota Beach for the race briefing.
|Underwater scene near Cagbalinad island. Photo was taken a day before the swim challenge when I went|
island hopping with my family
I forced myself to to consume a banana, a pack of energy gel and a bottle of Pocari Sweat and by 5:30 AM, I had gotten my body marked. I was still feeling shitty but when I finally got into the water for a warm-up swim, I felt so much better!
We were told that August is normally a calm month but not this particular day. Waves that were closer to shore were big and came in fast intervals, the kind of waves where you see people surf!
|The race course for 5KM swimmers. 10KM swimmers would have to do a second loop on the same course.|
The water going to Lahos island was still a bit choppy and there were parts were I was swimming against the current. It felt like I was hardly moving at all. I got stung by jellyfish numerous times. The first sting caught me by surprise, like someone piercing your skin with a pin. The pain went away after a few seconds but then I got stung again - and again. Fuck it. :P I focused on moving forward, one stroke at a time.
Apart from being physically demanding, the swim proved to be a mental challenge as well. A couple of times, thoughts of being attacked by a shark popped in my head but I had to shove it away. Fear increases your heart rate, makes you lose focus and stressed. When you're out there in the sea, you can't really afford to feel afraid.
|Lahos island. This is a nice place to take photos with enormous rock formation as your background|
After stuffing myself with gummy bears and coconut, I joined fellow swimmers in the water and we pushed each other for the final 1.4 KM swim.
I was so happy I opted for a 5KM swim. I was feeling very tired and my shoulders were beginning to hurt, like it's about to pop out!
|View when you climb one of the rocky peaks in Matukad. Just ask your boatman for directions.|
Feeling hunger set in, I immediately grabbed a pack of chocolate milk and bottle water from a marshal before actually crossing the finish line. (Priorities! :P) There, along with a dozen other people waiting for their swimmers, was my family, their faces looking equally ecstatic as I was for completing the swim! It's a dream come true!
|A fitting finish line photo for a foodie like me! This was the post race meal served boodle fight style.|
My swim, albeit considered a short one felt really good. Months of training, avoiding junk food, getting laughed at for having goggle eyes (the area near my eyes is whiter than the rest of my face making me look like an unusual panda) has paid off! I wouldn't mind doing it again next year! :) I'm hooked!
Thank you to everyone who rooted for me! :)
To God be the Glory!
I'm posting some info below in case you'curious about open water swimming, as well as travel information for those who are planning to visit Caramoan soon. :)
Naga & Caramoan Travel Information
How to Get to/Where to Go around Caramoan? Check out this helpful Caramoan Travel Guide by Travel Up
Where to Stay in Naga & Caramoan?
Accommodation in Naga City - Eurotel
Since there were 4 of us, we availed of a dorm type room that had two bunk beds for a discounted rate of 1,870.68 Pesos/night, booked through Agoda (Click here to book).
This is a seaside resort and also a starting point for island hopping tours.
Island View Lodge Rates (as of August 2016)
1,300 Pesos/day -aircon room with private t&b, good for 2 persons
1,800 Pesos/day - aircon room with private t&b, good for 4 persons
Free parking available.
Text to book. Contact Number : +63 919 393 2223 (Mobile Number)
Facebook Page here
You Tube : Effortless Swimming
Blog : Just Add Water
Open Water swimming tips
Top tips for preparing for open water swimming in the pool
How to Survive Your First Open-Water Swim: 8 Tips for The New Triathlete
Open water swimming tips and training
6 Common Worst Case Scenarios for Open Water Swimmers and How to Avoid Them
Need swim lessons?
If you want to get into swimming, I highly recommend you get a coach. It's so hard to unlearn an incorrect swim stroke! Below are some of the FB page of swim coaches here in the Philippines who can teach swimming for beginners. I haven't taken any classes from them but I often seem them in the pool where I train. Please get in touch with them directly.
Coach Nur - http://www.facebook.com/swimnur/
Swim Central - http://www.facebook.com/swimcentralph/