2022 FINA World Championships Diary by Gary Francis "Gaz" - Competition Final Day
Ruby Heath has never swum a 25km race previously and in fact her training up to this point has only touched at the kind of volume that is really required to swim such a gruelling distance. Following the day after the 10km race it was certainly going to be a big challenge for Ruby. The start had been moved forward to 7am to avoid the heat of the middle of the day, but we still anticipated temperatures close to 30 by about 9:30am!
There would be ten 2.5km laps and the first lap obviously suited Ruby as it was slightly slower than the previous day’s 10km, with the whole field turning in 32:30 or there abouts and Ruby comfortably nestled in about 4th place. The best distance swimmers have the ability to just keep repeating splits in a metronomic fashion, and the lead group did just that, turning 5km in 65 minutes and 10km in 2hrs 10 minutes. Ruby’s race plan was to make sure she swam in a group. Getting isolated for the 25km is very, very tough, so better to swim with a slower group rather than be stuck between two groups, one you can’t keep up with and one you are too fast for. She found a small group, with two Chinese athletes and an Argentinian. The Argentinian dropped out before 10km and Ruby was forced to lead as the Chinese refused to do any work from the front.
Ruby managed to get close to her previous day’s 10km split, 2:14.30 compared to 2:13.40 the day before. But the pace told on her. Whereas the top swimmers were swimming seven to eight minutes slower through the ten than their pace from yesterday, Ruby was trying to hold it. She bravely continued for another 5km before her shoulders literally seized up and she pulled out at that point.
With more work behind her I think she can really give the ultra- distances a good go, but it will take time. If she takes her 15km split from today (3:26) and her 10km time from yesterday she will be sitting on about 5 hrs 40 which would put her just outside the top 10. It’s a good target for next time and once she achieves the fitness level required she should see her swim speed increase considerably.
Overall this has been a huge learning experience for Ruby and she now knows exactly what standard is required to be competitive at the world level.