Jubilee Swim Build Up
It has come and gone and I am still in one piece???
The run up to this event was a bit of a damp squib with me losing my swim mojo about three weeks before it so I did virtually no training in the three weeks apart from heading to the pool with the slimhippo to give her some coaching and flail my arms a little bit. There were a few reasons why I lost my Swim Mojo, the first being bone idleness, the second being a very slightly niggly shoulder and elbow, the third was the lovely Blighty summer. last week was a cold week and the effort and thought of jumping into cold water was really not that enticing. However the sessions with the slimhippo were useful – to the slimhippo, so not all a loss. Being the eternal optimist, I put those three weeks down to TAPERING. Apparently all athletes should do this – what ever it is.
I definitely approach my swimming by listening to my body and effectively took three weeks out of the water but I feel that it was the right thing to do. If there were any issues with my shoulders and body, I think I gave them time to sort themselves out and I honestly believe that taking a bit of time out of the water is a good thing to do once in a while. In my Experience, when I have done this, I often return to the water stronger than I was before I left and my enthusiasm is renewed.
As mentioned above, the Lovely Blighty weather was rubbish the week before so I had been watching the long-term forecast for a while and was also confident that the weather would be great. The main reason that this was a high suspicion, was the fact that last week was half term for the school kids. Families had most likely taken the time to holiday with their little uns and there was a high probability that they would be out and about and then most would be returning back to their lives of school and work on Sunday – the day of the Race. So I was very confident that Sunday would be a scorcher. The rest of the week was absolute rubbish, just in time for the school holidays.
Arrived Early to meet up with another friend of mine that was in the earlier waves but failed to catch up with her before her bus left. As the swim is point to point, we parked at the finish and the organisers bused us all up to the start.When we arrived it was still a bit chilly and time was spent catching up with other friends and also meeting up with my support team. This year was made up of Slimhippo, Milan, Michaella and Graham Richardson who the canine wing of my support crew in the name of KIWI. We were all dressed for the heat wave that was due to come so we were all a bit chilly waiting for the bus. Finally we were on the bus and I met up with some fiends for the journey to the start.
Now was the Right time to unleash the new improved ANTIDRAG swimsuit to the world and it was very well received
All just a bit of Fun but probably spurred along by the Awesome Tiffany in America who really wanted a new costume, also the biggest headache to get hold of. These Jammers are now in a few places round the world and I have need to place a new order. Slimhippo, Look what you and Alexa (the crochet queen who made the originals) have started!!!
By now the Sun was coming out and we still had about 45 minutes to our start so it was an opportunity to catch up, try to fathom out the competition. I felt really sorry for all those people in the wetsuits in the baking sun – Boil in a bag comes to mind. It was soon time to have our race briefing and were all keen to learn how tropical the water was – A balmy 14.4 degrees celsius. Easily doable for 10km. Well, this is not really a 10 km race as it is advertised as it is more like 4 individual swims with a short walk – around a weirs – between them all. Total distance of swimming is about 9.5km, the distances of the 4 legs are as follows
Leg 1 = 1.9km
leg 2 = 3.5km
leg3 = 2.6km
leg4 = 1.5km
The walks in between the legs are probably no more than 300m along a gravel public footpath. All I can say is Thank God Slimhippo was waiting for me at all the exit points with a pair of flip-flops for the walk and subsequent dodging of cyclists and supporters. So at about 10.40 am our wave was asked to enter the water and there was the rush by all the “Boil in a bag Swimmers” to get into the river with the Bioprene brigade (non Wetsuit swimmers) leaving it to the last-minute to take the plunge.
We all then swam out to a point where there was a fallen tree in the River – this was the start point so no one swam into the tree.
This is probably the worst part of my swims like this, The Sprint Start. One thing I have never learnt, or rather never bothered to focus my training on, is the start. The Horn blows and there is a frenzy of flailing arms and every tears off at sprint speed, bit of a problem for the likes of me who gets into a rhythm immediately and that is usually maintained for the whole race. So, after about 500m, I was at the tail of the first third of the pack with about 20 swimmers in front of me.
This is a stretch of water I have been in fairly regularly as it is the section where the OSS Windsor and Maidenhead group train. Pace was going well, all working well, I was even using my legs – not something I usually do. I was in my own water with another Bioprene swimmer matching me stroke for stroke. All systems were good, Breathing Check! Stroke extension, Check! Rotation, Check! loose shoulders, Check! Temperature ,Check! All was going well and my pace was possibly faster than I usually do for a 10km. It would have been nice to get my stroke count but, at this point, my support crew are not walking along the bank. There is probably about 1km where the spectators have to make a detour away from the river’s edge and then back to theriver to watch the action unfolding
1,5 km came around pretty quickly and I was stepping out of the river in just over 25min 7 secs. The support crew were there to take photos and Slimhippo with my flip-flops.
Back in again and into the 3.5km stretch, pretty uneventful apart from the first 500m where my latissimus dorsi muscles (lats) were screaming at me, possibly due to the brief interlude that they had whilst walking around the Weir. The Group that I was in now started catching the wave in front of us so we were starting to overtake people, not really a huge issue as the River is pretty wide so no need to swim over people – unless they persistently get in your way. This is the longest stretch of the race and you just have to grind your way through it. the highlights of the swim are swimming beneath some pretty long bridges and occasionally you have to stop just to do an echo test – for fun, not part of the race. the stretch was spent reeling in other competitors and passing them. Occasionally you used to look up and see an Orange thing in front of you and you think, ooh, someone from my wave, best I try to catch them! so you speed up a bit and then you realise it is a Tow Float!!!!
Somthing I have never really swum with and never really wanted too but I see they are becoming more and more common and in some races, they are compulsory. I will have to get one at some point. I tried a slightly different Rest tube last year in italy and ended up with cuts around my torso where the strap had cut into me. so Not really a fan.
After 54 min 15 seconds, it was time to get out again, greeted by the slimhippo with my Flip flops – and the news that they had lost my mascot, Harry, Not something I could deal with now as I had to take on some food and also dodge all the cyclists and supporters. Graham was on hand with the GoPro after having had a brief crash course from the slimhippo to document the event.
Back in we went, after stumbling down the stairs a bit, 2.6km this time. I jumped in with a Neoprene speedster who was swimming in a relay so was nice and fresh. A bit of a blessing for me as it gave me someone to draft, not something I usually do but it was nice to practice my drafting skills, I will need all the experience I can get if I hope to put in a good swim in italy later in the year. Through a few more long bridges. it is amazing how many people get freaked out having to swim under a long bridge. This part of the River is bit more agricultural as there is a water treatment plant close by and a nature reserve so I struggled a bit with a blocked throat so had to stop the drafting and clear my throat before I could carry on. It seems Breathing is actually quite a useful pastime, you only realise how much when you struggle to do it. By this stage I was still passing other swimmers – that were from the wave ahead of me. Surprisingly I was still in good form and feeling strong. Breathing Check! Extension, Check! Rotation, Check! loose shoulders, Check! Temperature ,Check! Soon it was out for the last short walk. I got to the jetty – where there were two people getting medical assistance for cramps so was held up a bit whilst they were seen too. I was then helped out of the river in 42 min 59 seconds. Slimhippo was waiting with flip-flops and news that HARRY – my mascot had reappeared which lifted my spirits a bit.
In for the final stage – 1.5km. I was now with 3 other swimmers from my wave and another Bioprene swimmer that I had been switching places with the whole way. I managed to keep up with them but after about 1km, I let them go as my groin was starting to give me trouble and the wheels were starting to fall off so I slowed the pace down a bit to a pace that I was comfortable with for the final 500m to the finish. This leg was done in 23 min 29 seconds. If you take a look at the time for the first 1.9km stretch, I had slowed down a bit. Not really what I expected as I usually maintain my pace pretty well.
The finish was soon upon me, as I was helped out of the water, I saw the bubbly Tracy Clark, donning the Female version of the ANTIDrag shorts with a huge smile on her face and My support team were also there to greet me.
All in all a great swim and surprisingly, I felt great, No shoulder pains, slight groin strain and the rest of me was fine albeit glad to have finished. Not a personal best but a fair time all the same. the break down of the race is as follows
Leg 1 = 1.9km – 25.07.9
leg 2 = 3.5km – 54.15.3
leg3 = 2.6km – 42.59.2
leg4 = 1.5km – 23.29.3
Total time 2 hrs 25 min 51 seconds
Average speed – 3.9km/h
Overall place 38 out of 316
Bioprene place 6th out of 70
Bipoprene Male 5th out of 36
For anyone who wants to paw over the results in-depth, they can be found at the following website race results
All in all a good day, Great support, Great Organisation, Lovely location and fresh water to float around in. The rest of the day was spent just having a picnic and catching up with friends that I had not managed to catch up with before the race.
So where to Now?
Well, back to the lake of course. I still have the Italy swim to train for and that is nearly triple the distance so now, with my swim mojo returned, I am back in the lake tonight for a 3 km race – Running out of free passes for the lake so need to win this one. I think it will be Bioprene vs neoprene and I fear I will be seriously outnumbered. Of the 21 male 3km swimmers I predict that I will most likely be the only one sporting the BIOPRENE look. With such fabulous ANTIDrag pants, who would blame me? I could be wrong as the weather has warmed up phenomenally from last week and we are about 10 degrees warmer than the same time last week. I also have an induction to Stand up paddleboarding this weekend and need to help the slimhippo to get fit in the kayak so she is able to support me for the whole 28km in Italy. I see a fair amount of Water in my immediate future!!
Happy Swimming and I will try to update this blog more regularly.
Signing off – The Zimhippo.