I love swimming. When I swim I get that feeling that people who love running talk about all the time, that feeling of freedom and ease and more importantly enjoyment! The only part I don't love so much is following that black line up and down followed by the sudden confusion after drifting off in thought as to whether this is lap 64 or 66... did you already swim lap 65 or was that your next lap?!? Open water swimming solves all that.
I'd never actually swum open water until this event, having been away with work for 6 weeks in the summer in a location where swimming open water would have probably resulted in a visit to the doctor, but for once I wasn't nervous at the beginning of a challenge. I feel at home in the water, able to submerge into my own little bubble and swim my own race, without worrying I'm going to be the last person out there (in hindsight, after 10 challenges and this not being the case once I think i probably need to get over this!). The biggest concern was whether to wear my wetsuit or not. Having just spent a small fortune on a brand new open water wetsuit and feeling like chrismas had come early when it arrived I felt that I should, but it was uncharitalistically warm and the water temperature allowed swimmers to enter not wearing one. I watched a few waves exit the water and decided more people were wearing wetsuits than not, and if I didn't wear it I was required to spend money on a tow float to be allowed to swim... decision made, wetsuit was going on!
'Having got advice from some seasoned triathletes, i placed myself at the back of the wave, to avoid the washing machine affect in the water of lots of people starting together from a small area, jostling to get positions. This proved to be a winner as I just swam up the inside and overtook a load of people resulting in me only getting kicked in the face twice. Winning! A mile long course, it followed a similar route to that taken by the London 2012 Triathletes, and with it being a circle it made it quite easy to spot the infalatable bouys and swim in a resonably straight line between them. The wave sizes were relatively small and mixed ability, meaning they spread out pretty quickly leaving plenty of clean water to swim in (I'm not talking about the colour of the water here, the serpentine is anything but clean!) and it was marshalled by plenty of kayakers who were quick to let swimmers know if they were heading off in the wrong direction around the course.
Given it was the first year it was run, it was very well organised and thought out, with a nice goody bag at the end of the race and one of the best looking medals I've picked up this year. Hopefully next year they will open up a few different length course options. 2016 has been a year of a lot of firsts, and glad ive finally popped my open water swim cherry. Now where is that coke to sterilise my stomach...!!