Last Sunday (2nd August) saw an early start for Team Mermaids. Along with friends Kate and Brian we headed down to Sandbanks near Poole to swim around Brownsea Island. We had toyed with going down and staying the night before but we decided to drive down from London on the morning of the swim, meaning a 5am start. Luckily as swimmers we are used to getting up early!
Brownsea Island is located in Poole Harbour and the swim around the island is 6.5km. The swim didn’t start until 10am but you had to register by 8am in order to get the 8.20am or 8.50am ferry over to the island.
Brownsea is really lovely. It has a cafe, gift shops etc and a beautifully old house which is now a hotel. I had the feeling that an Agatha Cristine novel could be set there – ‘Murder on Brownsea Island’!
The ferry ride over to the island was fun, not too long and really added to the adventure of the day. Once on the island we walked into the grounds of the big house as the swim started from the beach there.
The start of the swim was chaos as the whole field went off together rather than the more usual staggered start. The current was strong so we were struggling to stay behind the start line. We were all just chatting away when the start whistle went and we were caught a bit on the hoof! There was a lot of pushing and shoving as over 300 people sprinted off. It soon thinned out though and the first part of the swim was really enjoyable* aided by the strong current.
*both of us did spot a jellyfish within the first 200m.
At half way you swim past a pier, even if half of the gang didn’t see it! After this we hit a lot of chop and the current turned against us. This section wasn’t so fun! It also was quite a shallow area and a couple of swimmers, including Manda, had to stand up to get over rocks after being too close to shore.
Soon enough you were rounding the final corner and the yellow buoys of the finish appeared. The finish is water based and there are people waiting in the water to give you your finishing token (much like a parkrun). We waited for each other and then the usual post race debrief started!
Manda finished in 1h 30m and was 3rd female. A podium finish in every race so far this season (well apart from Henley Classic) – well done Manda! Brian came in next in 1h 31m followed by Katie in 1h 39m and Kate in 1h 43.
Overall it felt like a fun day out with a little swim in the middle rather than a serious race. While I can’t say in enjoyed every minute of the swim (stupid currents!) the whole event was really well organised, the setting was picturesque and I would definitely recommend this to others looking for an experience swim.