Night Swimmer (Sandford Parks Lido) July 2015

On Friday myself (Manda), Brian and fellow Tuesday Night swimmers, Adrian, aka Dad Carr and David, aka Uncle Davey, went up to Cheltenham’s Lido, Sandford Parks, for a 12 hour night relay called Night Swimmer.

Once again, this seemed like a great idea in January, but as the date got closer and the reality of rain throughout the night got realer, I questioned why I do this to myself!

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This was the first time this race has taken place and I am sure if they do again some of the format might change but this was the information this year:

  • Non stop swimming 8pm -> 8pm
  • Teams must be made up of a minimum of 3 persons with a maximum of 10 per team.
  • Self-officiating from the participants i.e one team member not swimming is lap counter
  • Teams must submit their order of swimmers.  Teams must stick to the submitted order and each swimmer should only swim up to a maximum of 1 hour at a time.
  • In the unfortunate event of injury, teams may change the submitted order.
  • Wetsuits allowed
  • Water approx 24 degrees

Being the girl of the team, I let the men put up the tent in the rain (thanks guys!!), which would be used to keep everything dry and a place for a brief respite out of the rain.

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There was 24 teams participating over 8 lanes, so we were sharing our lane with 2 other teams.  This meant there only 3 people in the lane at any point, which made things easier the tireder you got.

There were differing opinions of the time tactics that we should do.  As a one-pace-wonder I gain no benefit/speed from doing shorter stints, so I preferred the option of longer legs, however, the boys thinking they would gain from doing shorter stints thought that doing 20 minute legs would be better.  I also thought descending intervals would be best, 40 mins -> 30 mins -> 20 mins as once fatigue sets in you want to be swimming less. So we agreed on 30 minutes x 2 each, then drop to 20 minute stints for remaining 8 hours.

Once we started we realised that it wasn’t so much the time in the water that should determine the intervals but more the time out of the water.  The 2 hour cycle went like this: SWIM, DRY/CHANGE/EAT, LAP COUNT, DOWNTIME/GET READY, REPEAT.  When you remove 40 minutes of that 2 hour cycle everything gets a little bit more hectic. I mean how am I meant to eat a pack of jaffas in that time!! We decided to change to 4* 30 minutes then 3* 20 minutes to bring us home.

The hardest part was the 1am -> 4am stint where, even though the rain had stopped, it was dark, everything I owned was now soaked and I was warmer and happier in the water.  There were a couple of times when I was supposedly lap-counting for uncle Davey when someone had to point out that it had been a few minutes and I hadn’t marked any laps!  Maybe next time we should get someone not swimming to be the lap counter.

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The sun then rose and everything was right in the world again apart from now I was dropping off whilst sitting on a chair on pool side, so I said I needed to get back in the water asap as it was the only way I was going to stay awake.  The drop to 20 minutes was needed at this point.  Myself, Brian and Adrian also put on our wetsuits for the 20 minute slots as Uncle Davey was concerned we were going to lose 2nd spot.

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8am arrived and everyone had finished.  We had managed 923 laps between the 4 of us, which was 46.15km, of which I swam ~11km of it.  Well done Uncle Davey for doing 12km.  Our distance got us 2nd and my desire to not wear a wetsuit got me a nasty look from Uncle Davey, who was convinced we could have taken the win if we would have worn wetsuits throughout.  Glouchester Masters won with around 49.2km.  Well done guys.

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I think 50km is realistic… next year anyone??

Thanks to Sandford Park lido team for putting on a great event that can only get more popular.

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Things I would do differently:

More dry clothes.  I was so concerned about not wanting to over pack and struggle to carry stuff that I didn’t take enough.

6 people.  I think 6 people would have allowed us to get closer to 50km and also meant more time to chill out inbetween swims.

Wetsuits.  Not sure how I would feel keeping a wetsuit on for 12 hours but that would definitely make things faster, especially for the boys, who seem to gain alot more from a wetsuit than us mermaids.

Bigger Tent.  This would be a luxury.  Travelling up on the train meant a smaller, lighter tent was needed but this meant that things got wet in there quickly.

Joint stop watch.  We were using our watches/phones to decide when the swimmers time was up.  This worked well for the most part but did lead to small variations so would have been better to have one joint timing device,

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