After a tense entry process that resulted in probably less than half the people we knew who wanted a spot (including Katie) not getting into the 2019 edition of the Outdoor Swimming Society’s Bantham Swoosh, I (Manda) felt privileged to be heading down to Devon (even if I originally thought it was in Dorset) on Friday for this year’s Bantham
I arrived at Aveton Gifford to register the morning of the swim and spotted Lindsey Cole immediately so said hello (and then had to get her to verify that I was who I said I was as I’d left my photo ID back in hotel).
We all hung around chatting and applying Vaseline, suntan lotion and more Vaseline. Then met up with some #ladieswholido who were attempting their longest swim to date.
After the briefing the ‘elite’ swimmers were called forward first. Now I’m not an ‘elite’ swimmer by any stretch of the imagination but I could achieve the sub 15 min km that was the definition of an elite swimmer. Us ‘elitees’ walked over the timing mat to then be told to wait as the lead boat wasn’t ready. Previously this would have annoyed me as I was ‘losing time’ whilst this was going on but 1) after my year + of shoulder problems I’m a lot more zen about these things especially when there is nothing you can do about it (and some guy was being aggro about it enough for the other 743 of us) 2) this isn’t really a race, I like to think of it like more of a sportive.
Soon enough we were off.
The swim itself is a beautiful 6km (although last 2 years my watch has only registered just over 5km) swim down the river Avon all the way to the sea at Bantham. You wiggle your way down the river following SUPs until at about 500m to go the channel narrows and you get swooooooshed to the finish.
The first km went really quickly. I was enjoy swimming and had found a little pod. I did laugh to myself that we had this wide river but often there were 4 of us in an area a metre wide hitting each other.
The 2nd km I stuck with one of the chaps from the earlier pod and we swam side by side the whole km… still hitting each other occasionally.
Kilometre 3. I had lost the guy I was swimming with (I spoke to him after and his cap had come off so he had stopped to sort his goggles) so was lonely. I was so lonely that I actually started singing this Akon’s song…
Km 4 spotted a Jellyfish. Whhhhaaaaat? Despite the salty water that doesn’t let you forget you are in sea water from the start, I hadn’t even considered jellyfish as we were in a river. By this point I had also hit a wall, with no one to swim with and the group in front a little too far away to catch it was not easy to push on.. so I didn’t! I relaxed and looked out for jellies whilst enjoying the swim.
Km 5. I spotted a guy not swimming with no SUP around him so I stopped and checked he was ok (he had cramp) and then swam off. He soon caught me up and I tried to stay with him but nah.. not happening!
Then the swoosh.. this year, after last year’s not realising it was the finish/not feeling the swoosh, I was determine to acknowledge and enjoy the swoosh and I did just that! If I ever get the chance to do the swoosh again I am definitely lying on my back for the swoosh and floating into the finish! Who fancies it?!
Then it was pasties, pints and Prosecco for the ladies who swoosh.
Thanks to Outdoor Swimming Society for another great event.