Reflecting on the forthcoming Scilly Swim Challenge

Scilly Swim Challenge logo

It’s only 2.5 weeks until the Scilly Swim Challenge, which is my “A-race” (*it’s not a race, it’s a challenge!). I’m starting to get nervous.

I met with my coach, Olly, today to map out my training for the next two weeks. There are quite a few things that I’d like to do between now and 5th September – including an RR10 (club race), a sprint triathlon and some parkruns – but I need to be sensible and only focus on training that will help me and not doing junk miles that will fatigue me. I’ve scheduled in several swim sessions per week and have cut right back on the running and cycling (although I’ll still be cycling to work every day). I also have a brand new pair of trainers, so I may sneak in a slow jog to try them out.

We’ve received an outline plan for the Scilly Swim weekend, which starts on…

Fri 4 September:

1400 to 1600hrs – Registration for all, Porthmellon Beach, Hugh Town, St Mary’s. Please have identification and sign the disclaimer. You will receive your swim hat, some goodies and entry number, we will mark your number on your ankle and hand.

1800 to 1900hrs – event brief and 1-mile acclimatisation swim from Porthmellon beach (please note this is compulsory and will give you a feel for the water and allows us to confirm pods for each swimmer).

Stu, Roelie and I will already be on the island, so making the registration session shouldn’t be a problem. It’ll also be fun to see the event swimming hat. I’ve got lots of swimming hats from events that I’ve done and I’ve never worked out what to do with them – I’ve got plenty in my training bag and will never get through them all. I’m wondering whether to turn them into bunting for my training room. Has anyone got any good suggestions?

ScillySwim hat2014

I’m thinking of taking my old 2XU wetsuit to use for the acclimatisation swim. This will mean that my new wetsuit will be dry for the first swim of the day on Saturday. I have no idea where the acclimatisation swim will go, but I’ll need to make sure that I can complete the mile within 40 minutes.

After the acclimatisation swim on Friday night, everyone will be allocated a swim pod (either Red, Amber or Green) with matching swim cap colour and allocated kayak and safety boat cover. I’m assuming that red will be the slow group, which will be me… but maybe we’ll be green.

Sat 5 September:

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  • 0700hrs -  Meet at Registration point, Porthmellon Beach. 3.5km walk to Bar Point carrying swim equipment.
  • 0830hrs -  Swim Bar Point to  Higher Town (St Martins)  – 2 miles (3.2k). Walk to Lower Town.
  • 1115hrs -  Swim  Lower Town to  Old Grimsby  (Tresco) – 1.8 miles (2.9k). Walk to New Grimsby. (Lunch stop here)
  • 1345hrs -  Swim New Grimsby to  Church Quay ( Bryher) – 1 mile (1.6k).  Walk to Rushy Bay.
  • 1500hrs -  Swim to Samson (800metres). Walk to Stony Ledge.
  • 1515hrs -  Swim to Porth Conger (St Agnes) – 3.3 miles (5.3k).
  • 1800hrs – Swim to Porthcressa (St Mary’s)- 2.2 miles (3.5k).

That’s 10.8 miles/17.3k in total! I know it’s going to be really tough, so I’ll just have to do the best I can. I’ve read several blog posts and forum posts where people said they got picked up last year. I think it will be surprising if I managed to complete the entire event. I hope this doesn’t sound defeatist. I’m just being realistic. It wasn’t long ago that I’d never done more than 2000m in one day. The toughest section will be the long swim from Samson to St Agnes. Even if I can’t do that, I hope I’ll be able to do the final swim to St. Mary’s.

Today the sea temperature off St Mary’s is 16.7°C (62°F). It would be good if it stays that warm, as we have been warned that it could be 13-15°C (55-59°F). Not everyone will be wearing wetsuits, but I think I’ll pack my neoprene gloves and booties in case I find the temperature too cold.

We should finish by 7:30pm. After that, there will be a beach reception. I hope I have enough energy left to party!

Sun 6 September:

If the weather is bad on Saturday, the event will be moved to Sunday. In the evening there will be a reception on St Martins.

Then it’ll be back to the mainland on Monday, ready to head back to Southampton before flying to Manchester for a conference. I’ve found out that I’ll be near to the aquatic centre, but by that stage, I may never want to swim again!

At the moment, I feel a mixture of nerves and excited anticipation for this event. I want more time to train, but I also just want to get started. Stu and Roelie are both much stronger swimmers than me, but they’re also both battling injuries, so I hope that they are fit and healthy enough to do the event… although if they slow down a bit, that’s fine too.

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