Derwent Swim 3.8k
Today I have done my first 3.8k swim, I have many friends who swim this distance, and I’ve been tempted by the epic events swim but never actually committed or it clashed with other events so this year when the water temperatures are great and the event did not clash and I have watched a special lady achieve these distances as part of an iron man training, how hard can just a swim be?
Except I don’t really like open water swimming. My mum owned the hire boats at Pooley bridge on lake Ullswater, I spent every day by the water, knowing all about the lakes edges, currents and the dangers of the lake and water and although as a child I played in the lake I was a competitive swimmer but never swam in the lake.
I started open water swimming in 2015 and I hated it, marina took me in and I swam the club open water sessions trying to get experience and learning to calm down. But I needed to swim next to someone and was easily spooked. But I needed to swim in open water to progress from pool triathlon.
I did my first ow triathlon at capenwray and I swam fast concentrating only on the bubbles my hands were making. Breathing every stroke and sighting almost every stroke too. It was a 500m swim and it was stressful but I did it. But over the years I have still struggled with anxiety when swimming open water. Very anxious.
Over the last year I have challenged myself in the water, swimming non wetsuit, on my own and with increasing calmness. My coach has taught me so much about myself, pushed my boundaries and taught me to listen to my body whist racing and having belief in myself.
And Today it paid off I have swam well, low in the water with minimal sighting, I was calm and composed. The day was stunning, the water warm, the views amazing and I took in the beauty of the surroundings as I raced.
But first I had to get to the start for 10.10 am. I had breakfast to prepare and serve to 10 people. Clear up and I needed to check the guests out who were leaving today.... never going to happen, I almost gave up hope of being able to leave. But I managed to leave. Asking Karen to register for me and meet me at the start, with kids in tow we rushed through to keswick arriving and finding John just as they are asking my wave to head into the water. The quickest change you’ve ever seen. Wetsuit on, chip on, kiss the girls, warn them to behave for the hero John who made it possible for me to race. And off I ran to be the last orange hat in the water.... more or less. Phew.
Thankfully there was a long swim to the start and a long wait for for all the other waves to join us out there, time to relax and cool down! Focus on me, how I feel and how I’m going to swim. The water was perfect.
We started, a noticeable difference to a triathlon start. I kept out of trouble and I set off knowing I had never swam this far but trusting my body and my abilities. I settled into a rhythm and I swam the first 1/4 under control on my own terms. I had about 5 swimmers around me and I found some feet that weren’t kicking, I was calmed by this, he then started pushing the pace and I felt I could stay with him and maintain the pace. We started to pass people as we ended the first lap two other swimmers then joined on. One was a lady.
I had to maintain the pace and I concentrated on this. I thought about my pull, focused on hand entry and gliding, I controlled my breathing and listened to every muscle in my body. I found I was pulling away from the others but they were fighting back, occasionally I felt people tapping my feet and this reminded me that I wasn’t actually on my own and I was racing. In the last two bouys I started to push the pace more, dropping the girl, but I could still occasionally feel my feet being tapped.
At this point I felt strong, calm and could take in the beautiful mountains and the amazing situation I was in. It dawned on me, I am calm. I am composed. I AM ENJOYING THIS. Wow all my work in the water, my determination to challenge myself has lead me to this point of actually enjoying being in the open water. Wow. I was so happy!
But hey on with the job....The last marker and I went into full race mode, head down, catch, pull, glide, kick harder...... I could feel a swimmer on my hip, this spurred me on. I was going hard only 200m or so to go, the pontoon came into sight... and I went flat out, the swimmers touching my feet were getting a bit to close and impeding my stroke but once I went into the final push I was clear. On to the pontoon and a quick trot to the timing mat.
Done! Wow I have never felt so relaxed and composed in an open water swim. It felt amazing! Wow!!!
A man came over to tell me my run along the pontoon was the best thing he’d seen all day!!! This is what triathletes do! Perfectly normal, that trot got me a time of 59.43 and 7th lady. And 30th out of 242 swimmers!
Then three swimmers came to tell me their thanks for pacing them and pushing them! Well thank you! Today was a pleasure.
I am amazed that in three years I have transformed from someone who has never swam in open water, who has always been nervous and anxious in the water to swimming 3.8k calmly and controlled giving me the best stroke and technique I have had to date and more over enjoy ever minute of being in the water.
So the moral of this story is keep going, keep trying and push yourself you will get there!