Well I survived the swim!! We got to Bowness nice and early, parked up and had a breakfast of bananas followed by pasta in a vague attempt not to get cramp. We then caught the ferry up to Brockhole and a short walk up to the start area, even at this time in the morning the crowds were beginning to form for what turned out to be a record breaking weekend with over 10000 people there. Each wave of swimmers had approximately 300 people in.
After a quick trip down to the charity village to say hello to The Christie guys and let them know I was here and not too nervous honest! Then we went down to the start line to watch the first few waves set off on their mile….. Then it was time to get changed into my shortie wetsuit and looking round at everyone in full length wetsuits I started to feel this was a mistake, but hey-ho its too late now.
Heading down to the start line you got your number and a smiley face written on your arm just in case you lost your hat, and your ankle timing chip checked, then it was off to the “warm up” pool handily renamed the acclimatisation pool due to the complete lack of warmth in the lake. Then with the hour almost here we had our warm up a stretching exercises from the powerade rep & the RLSS big green Elephant (who was also giving out free hugs). Our wave was immediately proceeded by the men’s elite race, there was definitely no danger of catching those at all!
If your a slightly nervous swimmer or this is your first foray into open water swimming I suggest you stop at the back and let everyone else run in as its a bit hectic and crowded and with 300 people within inches of you thrashing about it can feel very claustrophobic, it wont affect your time as your chip doesn’t start until you cross the line anyway.
Then that’s it your off and your glad you went in the acclimatisation pool otherwise the cold will hit your lungs hard. After 200-300 metres the cold got to my legs and the bananas had not worked, I ended up with bad cramp in my left leg, and even though there are a lot off safety boats about, the money I had raised for charity pushed me on. I found doing breaststroke eased the swim for me if somewhat reduced my time & speed, but its not a race (unless your an elite swimmer). The swim itself was actually quite pleasant once you got going and ignored the cold, after all your in the middle of the Lake District in the middle of June there isn’t a more beautiful place.
All was going fine until I reached the finish line which was a ramp out of the water, as I had not been using my left leg because of the cramp it gave way when I tried to stand up and rather embarrassingly I had to be helped out by the 2 lifeguards, once i was stood up I hobbled to the finish line full of relief and a sense of achievement.
Would I do it again? of course!! even though it was hard work it was an enjoyable day, even supported by a couple of celebrities, Tom Lister (Carl King from Emmerdale) & Olympic Great Duncan Goodhew both posting very respectable times.
I can thoroughly recommend doing this event and it was one off my bucket list, but a bit of advice really really make sure you do a bit of open water training and take Vaseline!!