I hadn’t planned on doing any more of the series however, after being 1st finisher in the June SleekerSwim Fell Foot 1.5k my prize was entry into another event and I’m not one to pass up on a freebie!
The July swim was out of the question as Dave had a place in the Bole Hill Road Race, plus I’d already pledged to do the Rapha Women’s 100 so we were making a day of it in Derbyshire. I’d have to squeeze in the August event.
There were also 3k and 5k distances this time though I was sticking to the 1.5k as I haven’t put in the mileage this year. They are river swims (from the bottom of Windermere), out with and then back against the flow. On the start line this was far more palpable than last time as I was sculling fairly frantically just to stay behind – being a little vertically challenged I couldn’t simply stand there like most people were! It occurred to me that this current was going to make for an uncomfortable last leg. I tried to ignore that thought. After all, it couldn’t be worse than the breezy dip I’d had at Wasdale a couple of weeks ago …though admittedly that could have been the delicious Gosforth Bakery pie & local stout lunch which were making me feeling queasy, not just the waves!
Billed more as a wild swim, following the course of the river and its features, it’s not an immediately obvious route with clear lines of sight (which evidently confused some people). I hastily advised a couple of swimmers that the buoy they were pointing at was actually the last one and they needed to head round the bend to the first. Apparently, the rest of the front row were not aware of this either; as we set off I cursed myself for not foreseeing this and keeping over to the right. Easing off as someone started to cut across but then changed direction with the lead kayaker’s course – quick, onto their feet. A few more dodgy lines, tangles with reeds and subsequent barging occurred on the way out; then, parting company with some blokes doing the longer distance, I headed off back upstream on my tod.
Remembering to keep the buoys on the right on my way back this time – in June I hadn’t realised this, with the water level lower I’d nearly beached myself, cutting may hands on the rocks and, rather annoyingly, scuffing my “good” wetsuit. I could see a couple of caps bobbing ahead of me, not sure what distance they were doing I resolved to chase them down. Convinced I was making some headway into the gap, rounding the bend to see the two had split – one was mistakenly bearing back to the first marker!
From the last buoy it’s another 90 degree turn and then straight back up the headwaters to the lake. As I approached I noticed there was nobody was heading up that stretch. Navigating the final “yoga ball in a net” (it seems they do have a use!) a kayaker was literally blocking my path. I conceded they were trying to check my distance thus direction; nevertheless, I skirted around them rather grumpily as I’d lost any momentum for pushing directly against the flow. The final stretch lasted forever, the end seemingly getting no closer every time I glanced up, the riverbed passing so slowly that I even spotted an Aerobie and considered going back to pick it up later. Making it eventually, I bagged myself a somewhat à la mode “Olympic flame” winner’s medal – unfortunately/fortunately* no gratis entry this time. *Relieved that I don’t feel obliged to do the mid-October Dip in the Dark (brrrr)!