Coniston – Chill Swim – End to End 2014

I (Manda) have managed to clock up 3 visits in 6 weeks to the Lake District this summer. Prior to that first trip to Windermere for our relay I had never been before and all I can say is WOW.

This was my final trip to the lake district (unless Brian comes up with another last minute silly idea 😉 ) for the year and what a great trip it was.

We (myself, Kate, Brian and Pivo) headed up on the Friday on the train and after some guardian cross word action (“Old Tissue (anag.) – Like a rake” – Anyone??) we arrived in Coniston and using Kate’s ordnance survey maps we headed for a walk to Old Man Coniston. We picked blackberries whilst we walked and debated over whether people should eat the low hanging fruit..a dog could have wee’d on it!!

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We then went and registered at the school, which was serving as the event HQ.

That evening the others arrived (Dave, Selina, Lisa and Tom) and we headed for dinner and an early night before the swim the next day.

The Swim was an end to end swim of 5.25 miles along Coniston and was organised by the lovely Colin Hill (who piloted our Windermere relay, as well as being known for the Olympic 10k swim and Great Swim events)

Saturday morning we didn’t actually have to get up too early as our wave (Pink – sub 34 minute milers) wasn’t setting off until 10:45, so we had some porridge, croissants and various swimmer friendly breakfast foods before we made our way over to the school.  At the school we chatted to various other swimmers, including the lovely Paul Bates of Big Ricks swim and Verity, who was doing the double.  She was swimming Coniston on the Saturday and Windermere on the Sunday.  Chillswim provided a bus to the start from the school.

I had decided to swim not at max effort as I was still feeling fatigued after Monday’s end to end Windermere 10 miler and instead relax and enjoy the swim.  This went against my competitive nature and after seeing the results it is something I questioned.

The start was really relaxed and something I think we all appreciated.  When you are an age grouper swimming 5.25 miles, no one needs a running start and all that hoy polloy.  Colin said “you may enter the water” and then slowly we made our way forward.. Note: at this point Brian hadn’t done up his wetsuit yet..Amateur hour Brian!

We had one half of the lake, therefore, the first 3.5 miles were uneventful and was able to just relax (apart from the shoulder pain!), enjoy the clean water and take in the surroundings (as much as a swimmer can).  At one point within the first 2 miles we swam between an island and the shore.  This island is from Swallows and Amazons, which was of much delight to Kate.  It was also a point of shallows rocks and I nearly managed to beach myself!  We were wearing Chill Swim tow floats, which we all weren’t sure how they were going to be swimming with.  I didn’t notice mine to the point that after half a mile, I panicked that I might have lost it and had to check it was there. I definitely recommend them.

There were 5 mile marker buoys and 4 feeding stations along the way.  1 was too near the start for the faster swimmers (as would have been there shortly after 30 minutes), 2 and 4 had jelly babies, which I don’t like. So 3 it was.  That feeding station was at approx. 3.5 miles so distance wise it worked well.  Per my aim of 2:15, I should be there around 90 minutes.  Sorted.  When I got to feeding point 3, Dave’s lovely girlfriend Selina was volunteering on it, so I pulled the VIP card and asked her for some banana and water.  Downed the water, tried to eat the banana and off I swam.  Only 1.75 miles to go.  Unfortunately some of the others got to the feeding stations later and they had run out of some of the food.  Not ideal and I sure something Colin will sort out for next time.

After the 4 mile marker there were some “Long Aquatic” weeds.  A few of the group enjoyed swimming through the weeds as it gave you a sense of speed but I didn’t get that same satisfaction so would ease down to go through weeds and then sprint in clean water.  By this point the water was more yellow, orange and green caps (the previous waves) so I was getting some sense of speed from passing these swimmers.  Some of these swimmers had been in the water since just after 8, so amazing effort from them to still being going coming up to 1.

I exited the water at 2:15.  Brian was already out the water (2:08) so I got some hot ribena and waited for the others with him.  We were shortly followed by Tom (who was in the previous wave and did an amazing time of 3:14 in his longest swim to date), then Dave came out.  Once Dave was out we headed to the beach to wait for Kate, Lisa and Pivo.  We were surprised to see Lisa and Kate exit the water together and thought they probably didn’t realise they were next to each other but it turns out they had been swimming on and off together for most of the swim.  Then Pivo came out shortly after.

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Chillswim put on a bus back to the HQ and then they had a presentation for all the winners.

The team didn’t win any of the prizes (well apart from some tunnocks and an arena bag in the spot prize raffle) but we found out afterwards that Brian had come 4th (wetsuit) male.

Thanks to Colin and Steph for an amazingly organised event.

It was Lisa’s birthday on the Friday so after the swim we had cake and prosecco to celebrate her birthday.  Then we headed over to the Black Bull for some food and Kate indulged in some beer tasting, whilst Lisa tried to set her up with some scottish bloke!


On Sunday we had a massive breakfast and then myself, Kate, Brian and Pivo went for a walk, ordnance survey map still in Kate’s hand, along the lake before heading back to London.

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Only the way back Pivo and Kate taught me and Brian the card game hearts.  I’m looking forward to the rematch already!!

A brilliant weekend with great people and great swimming.


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