I live a fair distance from the coast.  There are places in the UK where you can be further from the coast, but the reality is that it takes me an hour and 30 minutes to get to somewhere like Southwold for a nice cold swim.

So today I thought I would go to a fairly newly opened facility an hour away from where I live, and have a swim.  Trifarm is a place where you can swim, bike and ride on the same locality; it even has transition areas to practice those all-important (to some) transitions.

I have finally got fed up with Jesus Green Lido, as it is just too crowded and too warm (25C on the last visit), so thought Trifarm was worth a try.

It certainly won handily on the crowd front.  Hardly anybody there today (it is the day of the London Triathlon which might explain it.  It is basically a shallow lake, roughly round and about 400 m in diameter.  Four buoys describe a course which is swum clockwise, the round trip distance supposedly ~ 800 m, though the Garmin suggests ~725 m.

TriFarm site - Jul13

TriFarm site – Jul13

You can see that it is a fairly recent facility, as the aerial photo from Bing shows it mostly as a farmer’s field.  The slightly older aerial photo from Google shows it ALL as a farmer’s field.  It only opened this year, and has 2 lifeguards on duty at all times.  This seems a little like overkill, but you can’t argue with the Health and Safety people, not in the UK!

It was a bright and breezy, pleasantly warm summer day in the UK.  July has wound its way onwards in a beautiful, lazy, warm fashion, receding from the unusually high temperatures of the first three weeks of the month, but still lovely.  The lake was a disappointingly bath-like 23C, as it clearly doesn’t take a lot of warming up…

There is a ramp to get down into the water from the bank where you get in, and where I left my coolbox full of Maxim, cashew nuts (yum) and jelly  babies, then onto some nice squishy mud, and off into the lake.  Not a lot of visibility in the lake, even though it is pretty shallow, but hey, swim around the coasts of the UK, especially down the east and the Channel and it can be pretty murky too.  Parts of it are quite shallow with lots of weeds to battle your way through, but not really a problem.

I ended up doing 15 laps, though during one of them I obviously nodded off, as I completely omitted the 3rd buoy and went straight to home.  Navigation has never been my strong point.  I stopped every couple of laps for a drink, which seems to have taken a while, as out of the 3 hours and 58 minutes, 33 minutes was spent ‘not swimming’.  Not great.  Still, 10.5 km in the open water, nice easy pace (31 minute miles), and felt pretty good.

Also met another Channel  Aspirant!  Heidi is booked in with Paul Foreman in September next year. I think I might be seeing her quite a lot next spring, as we shiver on the beach of Dover Harbour.


My attempt to swim the Windermere distance at the weekend was not successful.  I am not especially used to failure, but I am being nice to myself about it.  I gave myself permission to fail.

In retrospect, going for the Windermere distance at the outdoor Jesus Green Pool on a weekend day with perfect, hot, sunny weather wasn’t that clever.  Every man and his wife, and their children, turned up at the pool.  It was one-out, one-in most of the day.  It was an absolute zoo, and even though it is a HUGE pool, and half of it was dedicated to ‘lane swimmers’, every length involved weaving in and out of head-up breaststrokers, back floaters, stoppers for no reason.

Then there was the sun.  I was paranoid about the sun, so at every feed after the first hour I dried my face and shoulders off and applied new sunscreen, which meant I was also very slow.  It was tortuous.

The final straw came when at a turnaround a woman actually landed on me.  Note, not a child being a bit thoughtless, but a fully grown woman.  God I wish I lived closer to the sea.

In the end, after 3 hours and 8 minutes of not very pleasant activity, and having swum a nice round 10,000 metres, I called it a day, went back to the car which by now had a parking ticket on it, and went home for a beer.  The 16.9 km will have to wait for another day, maybe when the weather is crappier, but unbelievably, the long period of lovely UK weather is set to continue……


Just Like California

It’s about 6 weeks now before I have my Windermere swim scheduled.  I have decided that tomorrow is when I will have a go at a practice (of the Windermere distance at least) in Jesus Green Lido.  There are a couple of key differences between what I will encounter tomorrow, and what I am likely to encounter in Windermere:

(1)   The temperature.  The UK has been enjoying a prolonged spell of settled, sunny and warm weather, the like of which has not been encountered since 2003.  We have been around the 75-80F mark for 13 days now.  This really is extraordinary stuff for us Brits.  While you guys in Southern California might find this completely unremarkable, this is once in a decade stuff for the UK.  What’s more, this spell of weather is set to continue for even longer

This has had the knock-on effect of warming up the Jesus Green pool to 23C (73F).  A far cry from the 13C (55F) we started with on opening day.  Windermere is more likely to be around 16C (61F) when I swim there in late August, so it is not really a fair test as far as temperature is concerned.

Look now at the round sunny icon displayed for tomorrow (Saturday) in the BBC weather forecast below.  These things are like hen’s teeth in the UK, and will require significant application of some serious sunblock to combat.  I have looked on in the past at the ‘Sunscreen’ thread on the Marathon Swimmers Forum with a kind of detached disinterest.  Now I am paying some serious attention, because people, summer is here!!

I am also on my own tomorrow, so will have to talk very nicely to one of the lifeguards to get a mid-swim application done, as it is seriously not in their job-description.  Otherwise I may have to bail which would be a shame.


(2)    Wind.  There will be very little there tomorrow.  The pool will be as flat as a pancake.  Not especially challenging.

(3)    The walls.  As the pool is 100 yards long, and Windermere is 16.9 km long, there will be the requirement to turn round and push off 185 times.  It could be worse I suppose; do 16.9 km in my usual indoor SCM pool and that would be 676 times, and my rather geriatric knees would go on strike.

(4)    Other users of the pool.  Tomorrow it is going to be scorchio, so the usual mix of wetsuited triathletes and head-up breaststrokers will be supplemented by who knows what.  I hope I will be able to maintain my composure…..  That’s a thing now, will the triathletes still be wearing wetsuits.  You would have to hope not…..

Visit report to follow.

The Sea, The Sea

Camping at the weekend in deepest, darkest Suffolk.  It was family time really, but found time while at Southwold beach for a couple of short swims on Saturday and on Sunday.

Saturday – 32 minutes.  25 minutes against the current one way up the beach, 5 groynes to the pier. 7 minutes back to the start point with the current.  Lovely to be in the coolish water, at 14 C despite being right at the end of June.


Southwold Pier

Southwold Pier


Sunday – 1 hour up and down the beach, round the pier a couple of times.  Pretty strong current again.  Swimming with the current the wind was against, creating some slightly troublesome chop, but all good experience.  The temperature was the same at 14 C, which felt largely OK, but some slightly colder patches that felt chilly.

Short swims, and surprisingly tiring.  The pool and the sea are very different places……