Longer Swims

I am set up to swim Windermere towards the end of August this year.  The electric boat is booked, and my support crew organised.  It’s going to be a bit of a novice affair all round:

(1) Me – novice swimmer – never done an OWS greater than 2.5 hours, and that was in a wetsuit in the Dart 10 K last October.

(2) Jeff – a friend, not a swimmer (well not a marathon swimmer anyway), but he’s happily agreed to support, both for Windermere and for the channel next year.  Thanks Jeff!

(3) Rafe – was Best Man at my wedding 10 years ago, has a PhD in nutrition, so hopefully will be looking after my nutritional needs.  Thanks Rafe!

(4) Mike Ratcliffe – Personal Trainer at the Sports Centre where I swim.  Used to be a seriously good triathlete back in the day, and would happily knock out 2 hour 30 10Ks in the pool.  He will be swimming wetsuited, I will be under English Channel rules (Speedos, single, non-insulating cap, goggles).

Mike is organising a Kayaker to support him, as it is unlikely we are going to swim the whole thing in tandem.

I have been trying to get some slightly longer swims in before the event, using the unheated, 100 yard, Jesus Green Lido in Cambridge.  Swims thus far:

(1) Opening Day, 13 degrees, 5600 yds, 1 h 27 mins,

(2) 18 degrees, 10000 yds, 2 h 45 mins

(3) 19 degrees, 12000 yds, 3 h 26 mins

(4) 19 degrees, 15000 yds 4 h 10 mins

So that last one is 560 metres longer than I have swum before, and in a 100 yard pool at a cooler temperature.  It was a typical English Summer day, with persistent cloud cover, occasional blustery rain, and even more occasional glimpses of the sun.  Turned out that this was enough to give me some mild sunburn all up my back.  Just as well it wasn’t sunny or I would have been toasted and wouldn’t have noticed until too late.  Note to self – get some serious suncream in!  The swim felt pretty good, and not too boring as I threw a few bits of hand paddles and pull buoy in there to make it more interesting.

We are off camping this weekend, so I will be able to get an hour or so in the sea at Southwold, temperature unknown, before a crack at the full windermere distance the following weekend (10.5 miles – 185 lengths of Jesus Green Pool, 672 lengths of my regular pool).  It should take about 5 hours 15, which sets a lower boundary on what I might expect from the real thing, which is going to be wavier (probably), and colder (definitely) than Jesus Green, which is, at 19 degrees, a little on the warm side now.

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A Bit of Cold(ish) Water Swimming

It’s been a few weeks since I blogged anything.  It took quite a while to get over the cold, which turned into a protracted, but mercifully not too debilitating, chest infection.  During this time, I went with my family to Portugal, staying near the Algarve resort of Carvoiero. 

My sister has a villa near Carvoiero, so we are really lucky to be able to stay for free, just having to pay for our flights out there, and a hire car.  It’s a great place, with room for 2 families, a huge garden, and a small swimming pool.  Not big enough to swim far in mind, but great for the kids.

I was expecting the water to be pretty pleasant; the average temperatures for the sea around this time of year are supposed to be 18-19 C.  I reckon it was a good bit cooler than that though, and very variable as you went in and out of shallower and deeper water.  Note to self – get a thermometer!

The Algarve is spectacular for swimming.  The entire coastline around Carvoiero is strewn with small coves and beaches, with LOADS of caves and arches to explore in between them.  Even better, many of the beaches are difficult to reach in any other way than from the sea, so it was easy to find beaches where I was the only one there.   I was on my own and in unfamiliar territory, so restricted myself to only an hour or so of swimming at any one time.

During the week of holiday, I hit on the idea of arranging a springtime swimming trip next year, and inviting a few other channel aspirants to join me in the Algarve for a week of early season goodness.  Temperatures in March should be in the low to mid teens, when UK and Irish waters are still in single digits.  There should be enormous potential to organise some swim safaris around the local coastline, and even on a couple of days get some boat escort for something longer, or maybe a 6 hour qualifier.

I will put a shout out on the Marathon Swimmers Forum after the summer and see if there are any takers. It’ll certainly be a lot more fun with some like-minded swimmers around.  Swimming and sunbathing during the day.  Barbecues and wine in the evening!

Since returning I have got myself slowly back into the swimming groove, including another visit to Jesus Green Lido last weekend.  The lido has warmed up quite a lot from its early season 13C, to 18C last weekend, which makes a huge difference.  It’s still harder than 28C though, especially with only one push-off every 100 yards.  Still, I managed 10000 yards in 2 hours 42 (5 x 2000 yds) which was OK, and was even toying with the idea of another 2000 yards, but I needed to get home for my tea.   There was a fair bit of shivering during the rewarming process, which was a bit of a worry.  Surely it shouldn’t be happening at 18 degrees?  I guess this is what acclimatisation is all about.

I am off there again tomorrow, to try and get a 4 hour swim in if possible.  Back home for a father’s day roast beef!