The Jubilee River Swim

Posted: June 18, 2016 in Swimming
Tags: , , ,

Jubilee 1

Cate and I had entered the Jubilee river swim an while ago. We had decided to do it as a relay as it was a little more sociable. We also intended to do it without wetsuits. Cate does all of her swims without a wetsuit as she feels uncomfortable wearing one, I tend to waver between the two choosing to wear one or not depending on the water temperature and the length of the swim.

We arrived in plenty of time despite a few minor navigational errors and some guesswork. We had been placed in the third start group, this meant that we had a civilised start time. The registration process was very quick. This was probably due to the first two waves having already left and most other people being already registered. All that was left to do was to get changed and head for the double decker bus that would take us to the start. I felt decidedly under dressed when sitting on the bus surrounded by people wearing wetsuits.

The swim its self was split up into four sections, Cate decided that she would do the first and third sections leaving me the long second section and the short fourth section. This was fine by me, I like a long swim and it meant that I didn’t have to bob about in the water waiting to start.

After the safety briefing the 3rd wave shuffled into the water ready for the start. There were all the usual squeals and squeaks as the water reached the more sensitive parts. We had been told that the water was 15 degrees but that didn’t correlate with the volume coming from some people.

Jubilee 2

Following the swimmers along the towpath

Once the swimmers were off the rest of us started following them down the towpath. We all had to be at the handover point before our swimmer but most of us were on photograph duty as well. Every bridge had supporters hanging over trying to take the perfect photo. If theirs were anything like mine than some of them will be sorely disappointed.

Jubilee 3

Cate doing her stuff

I arrived at the changeover point about five minutes before Cate and set up camp. Then began the wait, watching each of the swimmers emerging from the water, any one in a wetsuit could be classified as “Not Cate” as well as any man not wearing a wet suit. This made the job of spotting her much easier. She emerged from the water looking cheerful and relaxed. She had obviously had a good swim; she thought that there was a reasonable current running. We swapped over the timing chip and I wandered along the path, wishing that I brought some flip flops to guard against the small stone, and started the long leg of the swim.

The water wasn’t as cold as I was expecting and after a few hundred meters I was up to my usual working temperature. As it was a river swim it would be very hard to get lost but I still have an inability to swim in a straight line so my usual technique is to try and keep the bank at the same distance away or to follow someone who looks like they going in a straighter line that me. This is a dangerous strategy as there is usually no way to tell at water level if someone is actually swimming in a straight line. It didn’t take long to settle into a nice rhythm, I went under a few long bridges, this was a little disconcerting at the water dropped noticeable in temperature and the gloom was a bit oppressive. I know that they were reasonable long as my watch started buzzing.

he faster swimmers form the group behind started coming thought about halfway through the leg. I could tell they were in a different wave as they had different coloured hats and some were taking no prisoners. I was a little unsettling to have all these people rush past after a period of relative serenity.

Jubilee 4

Me and my colourful trunks doing our stuff

Near the end I started to feel a bit cold, the soles of my feet were chilly and I felt the tell-tale cold lines down my back and arms that meant I was coming up to the shivering point. I started wondering how far I had to go, I had lost track of time and had no grasp of any landmarks to gauge where I was. A quick look at my watch revealed that I only had five hundred meters to go, this knowledge lifted my sprits no end. Only ten minutes until I could grab a bite to eat and start warming up. Suddenly the row of yellow things ahead made sense that was the weir and the end of the leg.

Cate was there waiting, she grabbed the chip and left me to start grazing the selection of food at the aid station. They had just the right mix of chewy sweets, flapjacks, crisps and Jaffa cakes to satisfy my needs. I could have quite happily stayed there for a long time if it wasn’t for the fact that I needed to be at the next changeover before Cate and that I had a full and rapidly expanding bladder. I needed to find I secluded spot to fix that.

I got to the next changeover in plenty of time, enough time to take advantage of all of the goodies on offer. The next leg was reasonably short so I wasn’t too worried about being weighed down with cakes and biscuits. Cate arrived smiling and happy and then set me off on my way. This leg seemed to be over really quickly, it was shorter than one of my lunchtime swims and would have taken less time if I had followed the course of the river rather that zig-zagging down the river like a piece of demented flotsam. It wasn’t long before I was being helped out of the water and being handed a medal and a chocolate bar. At that point I was more interested in the chocolate bar.

We finished of the day by sitting in the field next to the car park devouring custard tarts and homemade Victoria sponge. It was the perfect way to round off a lovely swim.

Jubilee 5

Got the medal and the hat

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