Reflecting on a fun summer of swimming

Now that the nights are drawing in and the weather (not to mention the lido) is getting colder we thought it was time to reflect on this summer’s outdoor swimming season.  Over the last few years we have been focused on one big summer swim (2012 Manhattan, 2013 Zurich and 2014 Windermere) but this summer, probably more through lack of organisation than design, we didn’t have anything planned.  To make up for this we have participated in quite a few shorter (though I wouldn’t say short!) races.

The season started off for Manda with a 10k in the jellyfish infested waters of Sa Dragonera in Mallorca.  My first open water race of the season was the Jubilee River 10k swim.  The relaxed atmosphere and beautiful weather made this the perfect season opener.  After Jubilee we went properly short with the 2.1k Henley Classic and a return, after a few years absence, to the Great London Swim 1 mile race.  The shortest race of the season was probably the RG Active relays.  This race is 6 laps of Ham Lake with Manda and I alternating each lap.  The whole race is 3.2km in total.  After victory in 2014 we were beaten into second place this year so will be returning for revenge in future years.

It was back to endurance swimming after the Great London swim with the iconic Brownsea Island 6.5km swim, the 14k Henley Bridge to Bridge and the Dark 10k.

Something we had done much more of this year and have really enjoyed is early morning training at Tooting Bec Lido.  Two or three times a week we would meet at 6am when the lido opened, swim our 30 length set (3,000 yards).  We always start with 10 length steady as warm-up!  It would then be off to work for Manda and back to baby duty for me.

Given how much we have enjoyed the Lido this summer it was fitting that the last ‘race’ of the season was the 109 lengths challenge.  Each year the lido hosts a race consisting of 1 length for every year of the lido has been opened.  Last year we had competed in the 108 length challenge as a relay.  Given that 109 lengths is nearly 10km of swimming with no river assistance this time we were probably a bit blaze in our approach, worrying more about the cold than the distance.  Luckily the sun was shining on us on the day though so we survived.

While we have not done any major swimming challenges this year Team Mermaids friends have done some fantastic swims.  In July Kate and Lisa swam the length of Lake Windermere.  Lisa also swam back again in preparation for her channel swim which she completed in August.  Lisa got stuck in a current with an injury just off the French coast and basically had to battle for five hours to make it.  We are awed by her determination.  In September, Brian & Hilary along with their four other team mates completed a relay Arch to Arc.  For those that don’t know this is where you run from Marble Arch to Dover, swim the channel and then cycle to the Arc de Triomphe – wow!  In September Uncle Davy also completed his one way Windermere swim in an amazing time of 4 hours 20 minutes.  While not strictly all swimming a special mention also goes to Dad Carr for coming 19th in his age group at the Triathlon World Championships in Chicago.

Favourite race of the season?

KATIE: My favourite race of the season has to be Henley Bridge to Bridge.  The gorgeous weather, lovely water temperature, nicely spaced feed stops and good company made the 14km fly by.  Definitely one to do again.

MANDA: I loved them all for different reasons.  It really was a year for the bucket list swims.  Dragonera for the sunshine, facing my fears (jellyfish) and hearing Amanda Read on local television.  Jubilee for having Katie back with us.  Great London Swim as it really made me think of how far we have come since our other Great Swims.  Brownsea was a long but awesome day out with my favourite people.  All being said, my favourite race was Bridge to Bridge.  Despite Dan’s encouraging pace, it was great fun from start to finish.

Well that is the end of the open water swimming season for us.  We are looking forward our new winter training challenge (more on that soon), having some time to try other sports and of course to the start of next season!

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