Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Swim Britain (Part II)

Sunday just gone I took part in British Gas Swim Britain
"Swim Britain was a series of 4000m team swimming relays taking place across Britain this September." My brother-in-law told me about it a couple of months back and I'm really glad that he did. My training has a long term target - swimming the channel - but it was really good to have a short term target too.

Swim Britain took place across 11 locations throughout the UK and I took part at the London event at the London Fields Lido, a heated outdoor 50m (Olympic sized) swimming pool built at the end of the 1930's. It was a great venue and an experience that could only have been bettered by swimming in the open water event at the beautiful Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire. If there is a Swim Britain event next year? I will definitely be up for it and would love the opportunity to swim at Blenheim Palace (such a stunning place). 

Swim Britain itself was brilliant. I'm so glad that I had the chance to take part. Unfortunately it wasn't all plain swimming sailing. I signed up without a team. I needed to find a team of four. Me and three others. Shouldn't be too hard. Right? Well it turned out to be a lot harder than I thought it would. Firstly it turns out that I don't know too many people who can 1000m and secondly the ones I do know seem to be up in North Wales/The North West. But eventually with a bit of luck, coherence of friends and a twitter call out, I found myself a team. Only obviously this is me and so the drama couldn't possibly end there. Instead just a couple of days before the event two of my team had to pull out with the flu. Which was frustrating but standing around cold and wet outside in between swims is probably just about one of the worst things you could do when you're ill (so of course I completely understood).

Too late to find any further swimmers - I did a few more shout outs without any luck - we were a bit stuck. So I emailed Swim Britain who informed me that we basically had three options. 1. Merge with another team on the day who were also missing team members. 2. Complete our own swims with the team counting as DNF. 3. Swim double the distance.

Sophie - the woman who answered my call for swimmers on twitter - was quite up for option 3. I was a little less keen but unless we could find some people on the day to join up with, that seemed to be looking quite likely. 

Luckily for me, on the day Sophie over heard a girl named Clare - who was interning at the event - say that she had her swimming kit with her but didn't have a team. Sophie swooped and then there were three in the - what I thought was very cleverly at the time but a bit embarrassing on the day - team named Kerri-Anne Through the Payne. I was very excited about this obviously as it meant I wouldn't have to swim double.

Now at this point it would have made sense for myself and Sophie to swim six legs each but for some reason - it didn't even enter my head - it was decided that myself and Clare would do the standard four legs and Sophie would do eight (although she actually swam six legs in the end as it was possible to double up with the timing chips). 

Let me explain the swim a little. How it worked was that the swimming pool was laid out with giant inflatable buoys that you swam around so that you did five laps - of 50m - equalling 250m for each leg. When the first person got out the second got in and so on until each had swam 4 legs - 1000m - each. The legs were timed using a timing chip that you wore on your wrist and tapped as you got in and out of the pool. 

The event was great. There were people of all ages. Friends, families, club swimmers, weak swimmers all in the pool together. It was brilliant. It got lots of people together and it was very enjoyable. I'm really glad I took part and I was happy that my times weren't to shabby too. All four legs that I completed were between 4min 28sec and 4min 33sec. I can do sub 4mins in the pool but anyone able to do that last Sunday - and there were a few - must be some swimmer because not only did you have to navigate around the inflatable but also through a very busy pool of swimmers. On my first leg I think I managed to overtake around eight other swimmers (which I was probably quite smug about).

I was one of the faster swimmers there but by no means the fastest. In fact at the end of my second leg I was even over taken myself (serves me right for being smug haha). Being over taken was the low point of a day full of high points. The only other low points were waiting around cold and wet in between swims but the organisers kindly provided foil blankets - which keep you surprisingly warm - which made it bearable. So the only low point of the day - which I think I managed not to take to heart too much but will be using as motivation - was being overtaken on my second leg. But it wasn't just that I was over taken but that upon getting out of the pool I could see that the person who had over taken me - just as we reached the wall - was a young girl... who was no more than about 11! haha.

But that aside. All in all it was a great event, lots of fun and I hope that British Gas run it again next year, as I would love to do it all again. 


  1. Hello Anthony
    My name is Amy, I am working on the report for SB - any chance I can quote some of this blog in the internal report?

    1. Hi Amy. Yes of course. That would be more than ok :)