SLSC 110 Lengths Challenge 2017

The 110 lengths challenge held this year on 30 September 2017 is the closing party for the summer swimming season, celebrating a great summer at the lido and another year in the lido’s history.   Tooting Bec lido opened in 1906 and in previous years the challenge has been to swim one length for every year the lido has been open.  This year, however, the organisers very sensibly decided to cap the swim at 110 lengths which is the equivalent of 10k.

We have previously swum the challenge as relay in 2014 (read our account here) and as solos in 2015 (read our account here).  Last year I (Katie) was away for the event so dragged a reluctant Brain to do the swim with me one morning.  This year, after some mixed training over the last month or so and with another baby on board, we decided to swim as a relay again.

Just before 1pm we rocked up to join 20 solo swimmers and 9 other relay teams attempting the challenge.  After a briefing the solo swimmers were off, including Emma Watson, who arrived just in time with a just out of the oven fruit cake in tow.

In 2014 when we had last swum as a relay team the format was very relaxed, we got in when we wanted, swum together and counted our own lengths.  We were unprepared therefore for a formal mass relay start and Manda didn’t even have her hat and goggles on.  This ended up with her starting two lengths behind me.  We had decided to swim at the same time rather than in a standard relay format, which would mean no delay in cake consumption.

I was unsure how I would feel on the day as I am still suffering quite badly with sickness and have not been doing much training so we had just agreed that I would swim as many lengths as I felt able to and Manda would swim the balance (I think she was scared that I would only manage 10).  On the day the water was a lovely 16 degrees and I just took it steady and plodded through the lengths.

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Trying to keep track of how many lengths each other had swum so we finished after the requisite 110 lengths was challenging our mental arithmetic somewhat but we managed it with Manda stopping at the end of her 56 lengths when I was just starting my 54th.  Overall between us we completed the relay in 2 hours and 48 minutes.  This is slower than when we did the event as soloists even taking into account the additional length but I think that is mine and bump’s fault!

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Once we were out it was time for some still warm cake – delicious – and to watch the soloists and other relays finish.  The team organised by Bronnie Gray including last minute addition Fiona Wiggins, who was sporting her Team Mermaids hat, did an amazing job with 10 people each swimming 11 lengths.

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Well done to everyone who swam on the day.  Next year we are going to give the solo a crack again!

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SLSC 110 length anniversary challenge

Each year SLSC hold the anniversary challenge to celebrate the lido’s history. Participants swim one length for every year the lido has been open.  The lido opened in 1906 so those who are good at maths will work out that this year this was 110 lengths. At 100 yards a length this is just over 10km of swimming.

In 2014 Manda and I participated in the 108 length challenge as a relay and last year we stepped up to compete in the 109 length challenge solo.

I really enjoyed the event last year so with Manda building up her distances following Miles’ arrival I persuaded Brian to (a) become a member of the lido and (b) enter the swim with me.

We were busy training away when I discovered a small diary ‘incident’ and realised that the weekend of the swim was the weekend that I was away in Berlin as Dennis was running the marathon. After a morning of tears at the thought I was missing the challenge I managed to persuade Brian to come and swim the distance a week early with me.  Poor Brian – the things we make him do!

We agreed to meet at the lido at 7.30am on Saturday morning (17 September) only to find out that there was actually an aquathlon on and the pool wasn’t open until 8.30am. Oh dear!  This kind of c&ap would never happen if Manda was in charge.

We went back to my place and then came back for 8.30am. We decided to split the swim up into 3 blocks: 40 lengths, 40 lengths and then 30 lengths.  We finished the first 40 lengths in just over 56 minutes and then had a toilet and gel break.  We then started again for another 40 lengths before stopping for another gel break.  We then set out for the final 30 lengths with me telling Brian it was just like a normal training session. He gave me one of those “I’m too tried to respond but I am unimpressed” looks.

We finished in around 2 hours 44 minutes of swimming time and about 2 hours 51 of total time. This was slower than last year (even taking into account the extra length) but I think the competition environment helped a lot last year.  I really enjoyed the swim.  We had the perfect weather in that it was overcast so the lido wasn’t too busy but the water was still lovely and warm.

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Once wasn’t enough for Brian though and he was still planning on swimming in the official event the weekend after. Unfortunately though he forgot his wetsuit and managed 72 lengths’ skins before having to admit defeat from the cold.  Next year B!

 

Where to find the Mermaids this summer

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Jubilee 10k

5th June

Manda has very kindly given me (Katie) her the free entry to the Jubilee River swim as it is scheduled just a few days after her baby is due to arrive.  This was my first swim ‘back’ last summer so I am hoping to improve on my time this year.  Last year the weather was lovely and sunny and I have my fingers crossed for the same this year as it make the 10k go in a flash just floating down looking at the scenery.

Henley Classic: Alumni match

26th June
The Oxford vs Cambridge Alumni match will be returning at the Henley Classic in June this year.  Last year the Cambridge Alumnae ladies were the only team that were victorious over Oxford. Fingers crossed we can triumph again this year.

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1 mile handicap (SLSC club event)

1st July
Katie will representing the Team Mermaids solo at this event and this will be a reoccurring theme of the summer season. (Un)fortunately for her I (Manda) live right by the lido, so I will be sure to be down there encouraging her… I am thinking a fishing line with a piece of cake at the end. Otherwise how else will she beat the SLSC’s amazing Nancy. Note: the female winner of this event gets the “Mermaid Cup” – we have to win it one year Nancy – please!

The Boulter’s to Bray swim

2nd July

According to the website the Boulter’s to Bray Swim is one of the oldest open water swimming events, with a history dating back to the 19th century.  I can’t believe Team Mermaids have not swum this already and this is something we should quickly rectify!

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The Great London Swim

16th July

If I (Katie) can find a babysitter (any offers?!) I will be down at the London Victoria Docks competing in the Great London Swim.  I am keen for the 2 mile event this year having always done the 1 mile event in previous years.

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Thames Marathon (aka Bridge to Bridge)

7th August

Bridge to Bridge has been re-named the Thames Marathon for 2016 (we are not entirely sure why!).  Whatever it is called it was our favourite swim of 2015 and there I (Katie) am planning to be swimming the 14km down the Thames from Henley to Marlow Bridge again

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Coniston (ChillSwim)

3rd September
The weekend this event is taking place there are several other big ticket swims taking place in other parts of the country. Dart 10k, Brownsea Island and the new Swim the docks 10k. It wasn’t a hard decision to do Coniston again for me (Manda) and Katie hasn’t done it before so would be a chance for her to get it ticked off. To date it has been one of my favourite events. When you are travelling to a race it becomes more about the whole weekend experience and Coniston and the lakes mean that it really can be turned into a holiday. It will also hopefully mark my return to the water post baby arrival, if I don’t end up swimming I know I will have a great time supporting my friends, celebrating their success and sampling some of Coniston Brewery’s finest.

Oxford 10k 

11th September
This is a new event swimming from Bablock Hythe to Kings Lock.  We are quite tempted to book this in but in reality we don’t know how realistic it is 1 week after Coniston so it might be a case of seeing how we feel that weekend.

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Serpentine Swim

24th/25th September

Currently umming and ahhing about this event as we want to do the 110 length challenge so we are probably going to enter the ballot and see what happens.

110 length challenge (SLSC club event)

24th September
It’s an even year (110 length)… PHEW!!! Therefore, no defending our joint title instead the 10k will be divided by 2. I (Manda) was thinking I could maybe make Katie do more but seeing as she did 50% of it in 2014 when she was 5 months pregnant, I should probably just suck it up!