Saturday 16 September 2017

One day one photo - 16: Swimming in the Serpentine

So D-day came! I did my one-mile swim for Swim Serpentine. It was basically one lap of the Serpentine lake in Hyde Park, London.
The organisers of this event also stage the London Marathon and Ride London, two events which are extremely well organised. And this event was no exception.

There was a dry changing room, a heated wet changing room for after the swim, a bag drop area, and even a hot-tub at the finish line.

Each wave had about 200 people, and they set people off every half hour from 9am until 4.30pm. So that's a lot of swimmers! Once in the water there was enough space to swim without bumping into each other. I was just glad, for once to have people around me when I was swimming. It certainly helped with sighting!

As mentioned in a previous post, I am not a great swimmer. I had swum a mile back in the days when I did triathlons 15 years ago, and I haven't swum that distance since then. In this recent era I had only got up to swimming 1200m, and had only done that once. So going the full mile would be a new discovery for me!

The foghorn was sounded for us to start the race and we filed into the water in an orderly manner. My aim was just to keep a steady pace, stay warm (I wore an extra neoprene vest under my wetsuit, and a neoprene hat under the official swimming hat they provided us with.) Things were fine initially, especially as there were still quite a lot of people behind me.

But, as expected, I began to slow down in the last 500m, and the people that I passed at the start of the race overtook me towards the end of the race. In fact, at one point I had to stop and tread water just to have a rest.

A lifeguard in a canoe asked me if I was okay, which I was. I just asked him where the finish line was, so that I could properly decide how I would distribute my energy so that I could cross the finish line in a semi-reasonable state. That was a decent goal to have!

Hyde Park on a sunny Saturday afternoon is awash(!) with park users - and even more so when an event is taking place. So there was no shortage of spectators and people taking photos.

It was therefore important for me to look presentable and not staggering all over the place when I got out of the water. I just about achieved that!

In fact I came out feeling quite motivated, wanting to do another one of these.

Well, I've spent a princely sum on open water swimming gear, so I really should get my money's worth and swim in the open water as much as I can, from here on in.

Also, if you do the London Marathon, Ride London 100 and the 2-mile distance of Swim Serpentine you get a special London Classics medal, and you may even get into the Hall of Fame. I have already done Ride London 100 and run the London Marathon, so all I need to do is get back and swim 2 miles next year - only 2 miles! I think training for that will have to start now! 

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