Category Archives: Swimming

Great North Swim 2011

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So on Sunday 19th June I decided I would join thousands of people and enter one of the Great Swims. The Great North Swim which started 2008 and is hosted every year in lake Windermere the main event being the one mile swim, there is also a half mile swim for younger or less able swimmers and also a two mile swim for crazy people. Being a swimmer from a very earlier age the distance didn’t phase me at all, what did was the fact there would be no lanes ropes or lines on the bottom and of course I had never swam in open water before so had no idea what it would be like. Elizabeth, a fellow swimmer and coach, persuaded me to give it a go, so I thought why not and jumped online and booked myself in. It is wetsuit only event so next thing I needed was to get a wetsuit, after some really good advice of some friends that do triathlons, I got onto and ordered a wetsuit. I went for a TYR Hurricane wetsuit that had be designed for competitive open water swimming, which makes you super slippery and slide through the water with ease. Wetsuits also keep you warm in cold waters and give you added buoyancy, I am guessing the two main reasons the great swim make it compulsory to wear one. So when you run out of energy you can float and stay warm until they fish you out in a big net. I tried the wetsuit on, which is a pretty fun task…. and once on I felt like batman in the shiny rubber wetsuit, all i needed was a cape. A week before the event I received my pack from great events with my timing chip, swimming hat with my number and lot of useful information about the Great North Swim. The night before i got everything ready and decided to have an early night, which never happed as I ended up watching films as I was a little anxious and nervous about the swim. Up early grabbed something to eat, then threw everything in the car, parked my dad at the wheel and off we went. When we got there it was really busy and we spent awhile looking for parking, eventually we managed to find some parking in Ambleside, just north of the lake. Elizabeth, Sarah and their families were already there, they were also swimming , once we met up with them it was time to get changed. So I donned my wetsuit and was ready and couldn’t wait to get going, we (me, Elizabeth and Sarah) moved into the starting area with the other 300 people that were in our wave at 12:30pm, we had quick dunk in the acclimatization area. The water which was 16 degrees actually came as a relief, as I felt really warm in the wetsuit, after a few quick stretches it was time to go. I ran with the others down into the water and off we went, the first time I had swam in open water and wearing a wetsuit. I got past the initially bunching pretty quickly with Sarah out in front with a couple of others. It was a really weird feeling as i was actually floating unbelievable high in the water, and the fact i could see where i was going. I quickly realised i was useless at swimming in a straight line so after zigzagging my way up the first 800m i finial got the hang of it. The course was marked out every 200m with big yellow buoys and a big pink one at half way (800m). This still didn’t stop me getting lost and just after half way I sighted what I thought was the next buoy, after crashing into yellow jacketed kayaker the marshalled point out i was going the wrong way and had nearly beached myself. It was at this point I realised that there was not far to go and I should get a spurt on as i had been plodding long. Now going in the right direct and swimming in a straightish line I started to overtake people from pervious heats that were still swimming along quiet happily. I sprinted the last 200m jumped out the water I had done it, three people had finished before me including Sarah, Elizabeth finished just after me but the group was so spread out and it would take over an hour from when we finished for the whole  wave to complete the swim. We collected our freebies and checked our timing chips out, posed for a picture, I had to rip my wetsuit down as I was roasting then watched as everyone else finished. Chatting to Elizabeth afterwards she was telling me that she was having a good laugh at the fact I couldn’t swim in straight line…. whoops… sorry for being a distraction as well.  All I can say is I really enjoyed it, the atmosphere was awesome everyone was just there to have a great day and my advice any swimmer that’s thinking about it should just do it. There will be a next time and I am looking forward to it, I have learnt some lessons from this swim and want to do the next one faster and without getting lost.