Branching out

Today was my first ever event outside of the running world – an open water sea swim! I entered this particular one without much forethought all because a group chat saw me getting carried away… 2km sea swim on bank holiday Monday, how hard could it be?! Turns out, quite tricky!

We were aware that the weather forecast wasn’t super promising but figured we were getting wet anyway so that didn’t matter too much but what one doesn’t want when swimming is choppy water… Arriving in plenty of time to register we watched as those doing the 3km distance started and it became apparent that there was certainly going to be a preferred direction to swim in. Unfortunately, it was a yin/yang situation where both sides had to be experienced. Great. Chris and I then headed inside for coffee and plotting of future challenges (dangerous) and finally, it was our time to start…

Pre-race selfie!

Race briefing explained that we were to keep the massive course markers to our right and do two laps with a “run” in and out. Luckily for me I never enter these things to “race” and favour the “just finish” school of thought but I was soon aware that even finishing was going to be a massive challenge. The swim out to the first marker was tough as we were battling against the incoming tide and I floundered to get any form of technique on the go. Turns out, that was a sign of things to come for the entire time we were in the water. The distance between the buoys seemed to go on forever and given how pants my sighting is, I am sure I was adding to the mileage with every stroke! At the turnaround point and the moment I was hoping for with regard to some light relief I found I was moving quicker but struggling to stay in line with buoys! This was really hard going. The other thing I was struck by was just how lonely swimming is. If I struggle on a run I usually end up finding someone to chat with to spur me on or there’s a little cheer from a marshal to give you that much needed boost but when you are in the water and trying to get in to a rhythm you are aware of the safety crew but there’s no cheering and no one to exchange some pleasantries with; it’s you and the water and in the words of Dory you just have to ‘keep swimming’. So that is what I did!

Getting back to the beach was so welcome and I staggered up to the finish line just behind Chris. I honestly think that is the toughest event I have ever done especially from a psychological perspective!

Reflecting on the event whilst writing this I am still not overly sure I enjoyed it… There were moments I was acutely aware of just how powerful the sea is and I was in real danger of giving in to the panic I had initially felt but I did survive and have the bling and a new swimming cap to prove it! Feeling a bit apprehensive about the weekend’s lake swim event but surely if I can survive this, I can survive anything?!

Swim for the Bling!