My last swim for Barnardo’s was, undoubtedly, the very hardest by a factor of approx 1 million. The Hampton Court Swim is a 2.25 mile swim in the Thames from Hampton Court to Kingston Bridge.
Main reasons it was a trickster…
- Timing – It was just after my holiday in Mallorca where I had been drunk and full of ice cream and spaghetti for ten solid days.
- Tiredness – I literally came straight from reporting at Latitude Festival, I’d spent something like 15 hours driving in the 48 hours before the race…and had had NO SLEEP AT ALL.
- Lack of training – The race itself was the first time I’d been swimming in two weeks. That’s very silly. I’d been so busy coming up to this one with work (and, erm, holidays) that I’d put in no time at the pool at all.
- Weather fears – I drove myself mad with the wetsuit vs no wetsuit decision in the lead up to the event. The water was 23 degrees, which would ban wetsuits in triathlons, and I went a bit crazy with ‘do I swim open water without a wetsuit for first time ever?’ or ‘do I wear a wetsuit and boil and panic?’. I did the latter in the end.
- Course length – The furthest I’d ever swum was 1 mile, why I thought I could suddenly swim more than double that is beyond me.
- Non-existent flow – It was a downstream event and I took this to mean that it would be like swimming in a water park style ‘lazy river’. In the same event last year people apparently shaved up to fifteen minutes off their times just because of how fast the water was flowing. This year? There’d been no rain for weeks. It was no different to swimming in any other body of water. (Actually I found the wind made it choppier against me, making it harder!)
- LITERALLY NO END IN SIGHT – I’ve never swum an open water course which isn’t a loop and I’ve clearly become used to the benefit a looped course gives you as you always have a good idea of how much more is left to go. This was 2.25 miles in a straight line, with no end in sight. There were five distance markers along the route, but you often couldn’t even see the next distance marker. I was a big baby about this.
- Burn baby burn – I completely savaged my neck by not using a lube before this event. It was, literally, a bloody mess. SO FRIKKIN PAINFUL.
- I was hungry throughout and desperately needed a wee.
I really didn’t think I would finish it and wanted to give up waaaaaaaaay before the half way point. Luckily though, spectators can walk alongside on the bank so I had my boyfriend and his dad throwing words of encouragement my way the whole way along the course.
The second mile and a quarter just killed me, I clearly wasn’t ready to tackle this kind of distance (again, why did I think I was?!) and my time reflects this. I did the first mile in 35 minutes and the second mile and a quarter in 1 hour 5! So my total time was 1 hour and 40 mins. Pretty shoddy pacing skills.
I could barely stand at the end and felt pretty rough from it all, but I was so so so so proud of myself for finishing. I decided during the swim that I would never swim again, but I’m already looking forward to entering the same event next year and beating my time. Definitely something to strive towards!
As for whether I’ll carry on swimming now that my three challenges are over, the answer is a great big YES. Ten reasons I’ll be continuing can be found in this blog post here 🙂
Oh and in even better news, I’ve reached my £3000 fundraising target for Barnardo’s! But you are of course very welcome to still donate 🙂