Bright eyed and bushy tailed we arrived at registration making absolutely certain that this year we were in the correct wave … the slowest one!
Having completed the swim last year, we pretty much classed ourselves as seasoned pro’s. And as such, duly checked each other to ensure we didn’t have our wet suits on inside out or back to front. You may chortle … but I assure you both of these can happen within a 10 minute period!
Whilst we waited with anticipation at the start, we discussed our game plans for tackling the 10k. As I hadn’t learnt to swim front crawl in the 12 months leading up to the event, I decided to stick with breast stroke but this year incorporating a closed teeth breathing technique. My plan was to create a little grill to avoid swallowing weed and bugs along the way.
Rob suggested this might look a little aggressive especially if I started to breath heavily but decided that since everyone else would have their faces in the water that I should just go for it.
His strategy was to at least swim past the first weir, thus achieving a PB!
As we entered the water and started swimming we remembered the instruction ‘swim to the left of the stick’ which was actually a branch from the submerged tree that lay below.
And then the most terrify of things happened. As Rob swam ahead … something appeared from the murky depths and grabbed at his arms and stomach. He tried to swim on but found the creature grabbing him and preventing him from moving forward. He was panicking, thrashing his arms about as he gulped in air and water in an attempt to evade the grip of death.
At least, that’s Robs account of the event. <rolling eyes!> In actual fact, a sand bank had built up causing the water to become so shallow that most of the swimmers, including Rob were actually becoming beached on their belly’s and having to get up and walk across.
The river was a ‘balmy’ 17 degrees – the warmest it has ever been apparently for a jubilee swim. I fell into a natural rhythm with blu … I didn’t actually find out her name but she wore a black and blue wet suit and pretty much swam at the same pace as me.
The sun came out and the swimming felt good so we all settled into a good steady pace.
My merry band of supporters, including Benny, were waiting at the second feed station. I asked if they had seen Rob and if they had my flip flops to which the Robster hung his head I shame and declared ‘I am worse than Emi!’ Guess that was a no then!
Luckily the photographer, Rob Gower was there to capture Rob as he emerged triumphantly from the water at the second feed station.
I set off towards the final section, my feet getting thistled and bleeding from the sharp gravel and my back getting burnt to a crisp … sound familiar? (See last years blog) Thankfully I met Jane and Paul who did a great job at lifting my spirits and re-establishing my mental grit.
My arms were aching but I could see the Myrke Bridge in the distance and knew the finish was just around the corner. This was my home stretch and practise swim section. I entered the zone and swam strongly towards the bridge. A small crowd had gathered and were cheering. At that point I realised that for some bizarre reason I was swimming with my tongue out? Don’t ask me … I seriously have no idea … but it must have amused the onlookers who were laughing and pointing.
Rob did amazing and finished way ahead of me. As he climbed out the water to the cheering crowds, he made a beeline for the medal girl and snatched it from her. This year, he felt he well and truly deserved the medal and wasn’t going to miss out! (I’ll apologise on his behalf medal girl – he scared me when telling the story too!).
All in all – this was a fantastic day yet again. The supporters, kayakers, marshals, feed station support and organisers all did a fantastic job. Of course the biggest shout out goes to the wonderful swimmers who all encouraged and watched out for one another!
See you again next year.
Do’s and Don’s
Don’t stuff a tissue down your top for use at the first feed station
Do try and be the fastest swimmers … the Haribo are very soggy towards the end … eeeewww!
Don’t rely on loved ones, friends or family to bring flip flops, snacks or emergency supplies
Do count on total strangers to offer supplies and help along the way
Don’t drink too much river water – there are no toilets at the feed stations 😱
Do check out the river temperature and river warnings available daily on Maidenhead Rowing Club website. It’s a good guide.
Don’t swim with your tongue out – it goes furry and swells!
Do have amazing fun.
Don’t forget to sign up for next year. Just click here for the link