On Sunday I lined up, neoprene clad, along with hundreds of others to swims the British Heart Foundation’s Bournemouth Pier to Boscombe Pier. It was amazing seeing the range of people lined up, large, small, old, young, a guy on crutches, neoprene clad and non-neoprene. I grew up just along the coast in Poole. I loved going down to the beach after it had warmed up and all the tourists had gone, my brother and I had the beach to ourselves.
I have done a couple of lake swims but no sea swims. There are no tides or waves to contend with in a lake. It is 1.4 miles from pier to pier, being a metric girl my mum and I were trying to work out what this was in km, we eventually decided it was approximately 2.2km. The further open water swim I had done was 1.5km. I had struggled through the 1.5km swim with cramp. I knew my escape route if things got tough, turn left and head up to the beach. I knew that I would only do this if I was really in trouble but I still needed an escape route.
I joked with my mum before I started that I would rather run to Boscombe pier. I know that I can easily run that distance without much problems. The funny thing was that 5 years ago I did the Race for Life in Bournemouth which was between the piers and I couldn’t run that distance.
I learnt several very useful things during the swim
- The sea tastes salty, a bit obvious, but if you are swimming for an hour it is horrid
- wetsuit hickeys sting
- I don’t look like the massive beached whale in a wetsuit that I think that I do
- Swells means that you can’t always see where you are going, even if it is a massive pier
- Getting “I know a song that will get on your nerves” stuck in your head isn’t ideal
- Thinking of Find Nemo’s Dory “Just keep swimming” is helpful
- Open water swimming is mentally hard
I have discovered that swimming is mentally the hardest of the triathlon disciplines for me. When the visibility is poor (as it frequently is) you can see as far as the end of your black neoprene-clad arm. You can’t see anyone around you although you can occasionally feel them after you receive a bash to part of your anatomy. There are no distractions, no vista to look at, this means that you are totally in your head. I often get into a negative headspace but am working on it. Sometimes being in your head can be a really scary place and can play tricks on you. I was pretty convinced for a good 5 minutes that I wasn’t getting any closer but I knew that if I just kept swimming eventually I would get there.
Once I finished I went and gave my mum a wet hug 😀