My longest ever (continuous) swim

The boat house at Dorney lake

I’ve been stepping up my swimming recently as it’s only 3 months until Scilly Swim Challenge, which is a bit terrifying. 10k is often described as the ‘marathon’ of swimming events, so I guess that makes the Scilly Swim Challenge an ultra… and I’m someone who hasn’t even managed a half marathon swim (5km). As analogies go, this makes it even more terrifying as I feel like someone who has only completed a parkrun (5km)  but is now being expected to complete Marathon des Sables.

Anyway, onto more positive things…

I’ve been doing a lot of lake swimming recently, which is fun when it’s warm and less fun when it’s not! There’s also a new system in place at the lake – we’ve had to register with NOWCA (National Open Water Coaching Association) and have been provided with wristbands to register when people are in the lake. In theory, it’s a good system as it should flag up whether anyone has sunk to the bottom (!) as well as giving each swimmer some data… however, each swimmer has to count their own laps and the time includes however long it takes you to walk to and from the lake (which can be quite long if I see someone and stop to chat!)

Sometime after the swim, an email arrives with the data:

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I’ve also received reminders from RunKeeper about how well my swimming is going:

Swimming statistics from runkeeper

swimming PB

I failed to record some lengths on my Garmin, so my total recorded activity was over 24.5km, however, I’m quite confident that I recorded over 25km of swimming this month, which is a record for me!

So… onto the big event of the month: my 3km swimming race at Eton Dorney 3km swim race.

The view of the lake
The lake looked beautiful when we arrived
The boat house at Dorney lake
The boathouse at Dorney Lake

Unlike Stuart and Katherine, I didn’t feel ready to tackle a 5km swim… and unlike Katherine, I’m certainly not hardy enough to swim for very long without a wetsuit, so I signed up for the 3km Human race event.

My group photo
Eton group
Selfie@ ©Liz Carter

Eton pano

Liz was our amazing support crew, which was great, as my wave wasn’t scheduled to start until 11:15am. This meant that I had someone to chat to for a couple of hours.

Stu and Katherine
Stu and Katherine

We cheered Stu and Katherine off and then wandered over a bridge to watch the swimmers. Fortunately, Stu has quite a distinctive wetsuit with red stripes around the arms, so we managed to spot him quite easily and Katherine was one of only a few non-wetsuit swimmers wearing a blue hat.

A smile from Stu before the start of his race
Thumbs up!
Liz 'Super-spectator-with-field-glasses' Carter
Liz ‘Super-spectator-with-field-glasses’ Carter
A shot of Katherine from on the bridge.

We were able to see Stu and Katherine a couple of times before we headed back down to the Start/Finish. Stuart came in well ahead of his predicted 2 hour swim time (in 1:26, I think), so I was able to have a chat with him, before heading off to my pen.

My hat and timing chip
My hat and timing chip

My race started at 11:15am, and was the last race of the day. It took place on a different course from the 5 and 10k races – I had to do 4x750m loops.

I’m not a fan of mass starts, so I positioned myself towards the back, which is where I remained for the event. The water was lovely and clear and wasn’t as cold as I was worried that it might be. We had been told that it was 18.2C and I can believe it was at least 17C.

I quickly spotted the orange rope and followed it for the entire race. This meant that I didn’t have to worry too much about sighting, although I did have to contend with being lapped by many of the faster swimmers.

The wind had been picking up throughout the morning, so the water felt very choppy on the swim away from the start, however, it was much easier on the return leg.

By the time I had done a couple of laps, a lot of swimmers had finished and the number of swimmers on the course thinned out, which I preferred. It also meant that the water was less churned up and I was able to watch the shoals of tiny fish (*I’m not sure this is recommended – it distracted me and I think I spent a lot of time daydreaming and not putting in maximum effort!)

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By the time I was on my 4th lap, I had got into a rhythm and was enjoying myself, however, I was terribly slow, which doesn’t bode too well for my crazy 17km sea swim in September. I finished in 1:20 – not quite last, but definitely back of the pack.

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Eton Dorney 3km swim
Eton Dorney 3km swim

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This was a really enjoyable event that I would recommend to anyone.


Everyone loves a montage!
Everyone loves a montage!

I also had a reminder about the St Michael’s Mount swim that Stuart and I are doing in about 7 weeks time. It’s quite exciting and I think I’ll enjoy being in the sea, even if there are no ropes to follow and I’m sure I’ll get paranoid about jellyfish, sharks and other crazy things!

The start of the St. Michael’s Mount swim in 2014.
A photograph taken at last year’s St. Michael’s Mount swim. The diagonal line that you can see on this picture is the causeway to St. Michael’s Mount. To the left of the rock, you can see the swimmers.
An aerial view of St. Michael’s Mount.

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