Marathon Swims 2019

2019 marks the 3rd year of marathon swims.  The first year we didn’t fancy it, the 2nd year we didn’t fancy it and the 3rd year…well we thought why not give it a try.  We will do anything once!


Marathon Swims takes over the whole of the London Aquatic centre pool for an entire weekend in November.  Events are 1km, 5km and 10km, with the 10km being able to be split by 2 people.. We love a relay so the relay option was the 1 for us.

We aren’t strangers to swimming 5km in a pool, with us tackling that distance yearly for Swimathon, however, every year we tactically choose our time and location slot based on when and where we think the least amount of swimmers will be.  We couldn’t avoid the swimmers for Marathon Swims 2019 as it was once again sold out, so part of the challenge of this event was going to be dealing with the sheer volume of people in the pool at any one time.

We chose to do our relay first thing on the Sunday morning (by paying a premium as all other relay teams would be setting off in the afternoon) so we both set off from South west London around 7am and arrived at the ever fantastic aquatic centre at 8am to register and get ready.

Just before 9am we were off.  How you split the 10km was up to the team.  However, there is yet to be a 9km to 1km split!  Then how you do your share is again up to you so we choose to do 5km each by alternating 1kms.

I (Manda) was asked by the pool side commentator whether having a break after each 1km made it easier or harder.  My answer was “a bit of both”.  Easier because you get the additional rest, harder because you tend to attack each 1km like a 1km time trial, so we were exiting the water after each 1km gasping for breath!

You cover the 1km by swimming up and down each of the 10 lanes.  For this reason the 1km appears to go faster than normal as you aren’t just going up and down the same lane (even if it looks identical when staring at the bottom of the pool!).

Once you exit the water after your 1km you have to run the 25m back to the start.  For the team event you then have to tag in your team member to take over – we chose the casual single hand high five, over a more dramatic double hand high five or fist bump.  There was a real variety of people running and walking through transition.  We choose to run, well if you can call what Mermaids do on land as running.  I don’t think the running over walking made any difference in reality but it was good to feel like you are giving it your all until you hand over.

All in all it was a fun event and I am pleased to have done it.  It also encourages a lot of people to tackle various differences that they wouldn’t normally do and hopefully these people, if not already doing so, will transition to the world of open water swimming events off the back of this.

The cons are it was busy! Very busy. Your time is impacted by your transition, which often isn’t within your control as you have to queue up to get back in the water for your next 1km (I asked to dive over someone who had got in to go but then proceeded to take their sweet time before actually pushing off – my request was declined 😉 ).  The other con is the cost.  We got a discount code to enter but I don’t think I would do again even at the discounted price… never say never though right.

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