The British Open Water Championships

Posted: October 1, 2016 in Swimming



I like an event with an impressive title and I like a new event, this event was both new and had an impressive title, I just had to do it. Swim serpentine ran over two days, day one was one loop of the serpentine and day two, called the British Open Water Championships did two loops. I had entered the Sunday event as it was longer. If I was going to travel up to London, then I wanted to have a decent swim. The first surprise came a week before in the shape of number transfers or tattoos as they were called. It looked like they wanted us to have numbers all over the place.


It was nice to have an afternoon start, it meant I could have a Sunday morning lie in and a proper breakfast before meeting Cate and heading up to London on the train. I was expecting the area around the swim start to be a hive of activity but it seemed almost empty. A few people told us that it had been a lot busier yesterday, the extra loop of the lake must have put a few people off.



Tattoos R us

Slowly people assembled at the start. It became very clear that loud swimwear was a feature of this age group. There were some very bright trunks, some of them were more hideous than mine. It started to get serious at the briefing. We were racing under FINA rules. This meant no watches, no jewellery and short nails, there were some other things as well but I ignored those as I was removing all my jewellery and trimming my nails.


A few minutes before the start we were given the opportunity to acclimatise to the temperature. We had been told that it was around 17 degrees but that is just a number. The real test was getting in. After the initial shock of getting wet the temperature was not a problem. It was warm enough to swim in and that was good enough for me.


The start was a chaotic affair. First of all, we had to line up behind a rope. The instruction was to hold the rope. That would have been easy if it wasn’t for all the people standing on it and holding it below the surface. Stupidly I’d picked a place in the middle of the line, I never start in the middle of the line.  After a bit of shuffling about to get us all in line the starter sounded the horn and we were off. The start was similar to having a boxing match in a washing machine. There were arms, legs and water all over the place. One moment someone would be swimming over me the next I would be swimming over someone else. I don’t like the starts of swim races; they are far too violent.


The struggle had calmed down by the first turn. Most of those that were faster were in front and most of the slower ones were behind. Now I could start to enjoy the swim. Well I would have if it were not for the person in front of me. I went left, they went left, I went right, they went right. It was as if they were deliberately trying to block my path. All I wanted was a clear bit of water. Eventually it got beyond a joke, there may have been some cursing, loud cursing. I pulled back and then swung out wide. It took a while but slowly I passed him. Now I was happy, I was in clear water, I could set my pace and start enjoying the swim.


The first woman passed me at the bottom end of the course, she came flying past at a speed I could only dream of. A little later one or two others came speeding by. The women had had given the men a six-minute head start so these women where really moving, they would probably be finished, showered and changed by the time I had finished.


The second lap was much better that the first, I’d warmed up and settled into my stride, occasionally someone would come past but as I had no hope of keeping up with them that didn’t bother me. This time round I could look at the ducks and swans and wonder what they were making of it all.


I turned the last corner and all of a sudden realised that it was nearly over. I don’t do sprint finishes but a group behind me were determined to. One or two came by but I kept to my slow and steady approach right up to the last few meters. Someone in a green hat was trying to come past. I wasn’t going to have that. We finished together. She turned to me and said “I’m glad you are a bloke” as she was given the news she was third in her category.


There was a selection of hot tubs in the finish area, it was a suitable place to wait for Cate and warm up. There were bragging rights at stake, she would have to wait a while to find out that she had beaten me by a minute.



Happy people with a duck toilet in the background


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