I’m 3km down and 3km to go. Hanging off the aspect of the assist boat in the midst of Wimbleball Lake, I’ve been handed a paper cup generously full of jelly beans. Now, I may simply eat one or two and keep it up, however I’m already in the back of the sector and with the solar shining on my face, I’m having fun with the second. Yum, jelly beans. “There you’re,” a voice comes from a kayak. “I look away for a second and also you cease swimming!” The mild banter is coming from one of many very good race assist group, who’ve been maintaining a tally of me as one of many slower swimmers within the sixth working of the Exmoor Swim and its 6km ‘elite’ class. So how did I come to be right here..?
Reassessing my targets
My 2022 swim season didn’t go fairly to plan, I believe it’s truthful to say. Having swum Lake Coniston final 12 months (8.5km), my plan this 12 months was to maneuver up in distance and full the 2 bigger ones – Ullswater and Windermere. A string of nasty lurgies tousled my early summer season coaching although, so the choice was made to reassess my targets a bit and swap to the Bantham Swoosh and Dart 10k as an alternative.
The Swoosh went nicely, however then it is vitally a lot tidal-assisted, so the Dart was down as my swim A-race…. However then after the climate record urged gusty circumstances as well as troublesome swimming, the organisers took the troublesome determination to cancel. So what to do, with a load of lengthy coaching swims going to waste? Properly, a season saviour got here within the type of the Exmoor Swim, who opened up their 6km ‘elite’ race to these of us of a much less elite persuasion, to aid swimmers searching for a substitute occasion.
Initially you wanted to have the ability to swim a mile in below 28 minutes to enter this race (which I positively can’t do!). My endurance is sweet although, so I lined up on race day with the primary wave of red-capped swimmers. Initially the 6km was going to be a mass begin, however with water ranges at Wimbleball low because of the lengthy, sizzling summer season (most UK lakes and reservoirs are having the identical challenge) a floating pontoon had been constructed and swimmers have been invited to enter the water in their very own time, with a 60-second grace interval earlier than timing started.
Again of the pack
Eager to keep away from the frenzy of elbows, I entered the water in the direction of the again and throughout the first couple of hundred metres discovered myself with my very own particular person assist within the type of the again marker kayaker (did no different slower swimmers get the memo about being allowed to enter?!) however I obtained into a gradual tempo and headed across the first L-shaped 2km lap of three. Fortunately Wimbleball Lake is large, so regardless of the low water ranges the organisers may nonetheless map out a decent-sized loop. That is my second occasion right here and I used to be shortly reminded how lovely the realm is, the water surrounded by fields and timber and the odd sloping mud-flats revealed by the low water. Individuals say Exmoor has its personal micro-climate, however the occasion day was vivid and sunny and the water contemporary at round 16 levels.
I carried on straight by way of the primary lap with out stopping on the midway feed watercraft, which was dishing out water as well as jelly infants to swimmers on the longer programs. Heading spherical on my second lap there was a change too, as swimmers doing the shorter 4km and 2km occasions entered the water and began swimming. I managed to get on just a few units of quick ft right here and there, including curiosity to my swim and a few burst of pace. My devoted assist kayaker (thanks John!) was very good, giving me phrases of encouragement and guiding me across the course.
Coming into the third and last 2km lap, the course had emptied once more as these doing the opposite distances had principally completed. “Are you up for this, then?” requested John the kayaker. “In fact,” I replied. “I’m sluggish, nevertheless all of us get the identical medal!” He laughed, informed me I get 10/10 for endurance, as well as off we set on our last lap across the 2km. By this level I realised my fingers as well as ft have been fairly numb and chilly, however that was extra of an annoyance than an indication I used to be struggling as I’m fairly nicely acclimatised. Making an attempt to complete robust with claw fingers isn’t straightforward although! Round we went and in what appeared like report time, a group of kayakers appeared lining the route into the end the place a number of helpers have been readily available to assist drained swimmers get upright and navigate the stroll out of the lake.
One thing for everybody
My chip was eliminated, a medal handed to me (which additionally doubled as a bottle opener and fridge magnet, blissful days!) and I headed again as much as the race’s very good swim transition space (the place you get your individual little spot marked out) to gather some heat garments. The one factor left for as we speak? A cuppa and a few cake from the occasion village and siting down to look at the swimmers taking up the 1km swim occasions. This swim really has one thing for everybody and though my time definitely wasn’t ‘elite’, this was a good way to finish my swim season on a excessive. Who is aware of, possibly I’ll practice for pace not distance subsequent 12 months and are available again once more!
Exmoor Swim raised over £20,000 forcharitable causes, Chill (Chilly water remedy for folks affected by anxiousness and despair) Kids’s Hospice South West, Plastic Free North Devon, Somerset Wild Life Belief, Household Compass (serving to to discontinue youngster abuse). Entries at the moment are open for 2023’s occasion, click on right below.