Race Reports

Cold Water Swimming Championships

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As one of the original team from Toting Bec's South London Swimming Club who put the Cold Water Swimming Championship's on the map in 2007, this event is an absolute must for me.  I swam every Sunday through the winters of 2002, 3, 4, 5 and 6 in the Lido and still miss that great comradely and "sensation" when racing there.  Feeling the water's temperature fall slowly from October to February is as much nerve racking as it is exhilarating, but the times when it fell as low as 1 degree Centigrade are few and far between.  Sadly I never got the chance to break the ice to swim at the Lido.

So when I jumped into the 1 degree water for my first race, I was genuinely shocked.....not just because I am not acclimatised like I used to be, but I was also entering unknown cold territory.  I screamed with cold, my body tensed up......then the beeper started and the race (30m freestyle) had begun.  With my arms pumping and legs doing a 6-beat kick, I was on my way.  The water ahead had amazing clarity, I could see no one close to me.  I had won but there was no time for hanging around.  In one fluid motion I touched the wall and leapt out of the pool.  My body felt like a stone standing on the side for 2 seconds before the blood starting returning to my body, and that incredible feeling started.  The buzz is pretty post-coital in nature.

And this is the reason why cold water swimming is so addictive.  Yes, I am a fully paid up member of the Nutter Club (along with lots of you reading this article) but a few of us get our kicks from freezing waters.  The beer tent, hog roast, hot tubs, sauna and comradely all add to the experience.  Oh, and reaching two finals (freestyle and "head-up" breaststroke) also help.  What started in 2011 with five members of the Tri and Swimming Clubs going up to London has turned into 10.  Tim Fraser from the swimming club scooped a gold and silver.  Our two relay teams acquitted themselves well and we all had a superb day.   Next time we might have to break the ice.........here's hoping!

Matt Record

 

"From outside looking in you cant understand it -from the inside looking out you cant explain it."

It is said that with cold water plunges the non-initiated can only stare and ask "why?" Well that's not really true I also was asking myself that in the run up to the Cold water championships. I was looking for any excuse to pull out but as I was not only entered for the freestyle I also had the joy of the relays so there was no way I could let my team mates down. With gritted teeth and grim determination I accepted that it was inevitable and actually started to look forward to it.

Ok that's a lie, the first time I did this event in 2011 I looked forward to it as I did not know what to expect, this time I knew exactly what was coming. The water temperature was somewhere between 0.5 and 1.5 degrees depending on where it was measured the distance was a width of the Tooting Bec lido (32-35m) in just speedos goggles and a hat.

The journey there was good fun I travelled with Matt and Jamie (we were also in the same relay team)  we were also accompanied by some of the Marlins. We managed to stay off the hip flasks until nearly all the swimming was over, unfortunately Matt downed my hot mulled wine after one swim final while he was waiting for the next, I say unfortunately as he thought it was hot Ribena until he finished his gulp and then coughing spasam.

The rules state that you have to all drop into the water hold onto the edge with shoulders under the water and wait for the count down this felt like 5 mins but in reality 5 -10 sec's then off. There were some quality swimmers there who I think had the advantage of not spending so long in the water. 600 individual swims so it was quite a large meeting with some of the most eccentric people you will ever meet.

Anyway a great day with some bone chilling painful swims, would I do it again... Of course cant wait until 2014.

Steve Mac

 

This week has been interesting; challenges at work, sleepless nights with children, a house without heating, a sick wife, a couple of trips to the Dentist (what kind of individual would become a Dentist anyway?) a few swim and run sessions that pushed the limits (the heavy meals beforehand were a mistake).  Regardless, life is now thoroughly enjoyable as the National Cold Water Swimming Championships are out of the way.

There is absolutely no justification as to why.  There is no need to jump into freezing (literally) water and swim about like a loon, however 600 of this nations "finest" disagree.  The Eccentric Magnet that is Tooting Bec Lido was to put on a show - they came from everywhere, all taking pride in a bond created over sadomasochistic joy!

I often think that with sport you are given a bottle of pain to deal with as you see fit.  Regardless of the competition, you should have an empty bottle by the end; be it a 400m swim, 10mile TT, Marathon, Ironman, Ultra, etc.  Emptying the bottle in 20 odd seconds can be quite an eye opening experience, while using it up through anxiety before you start inevitably ends in grief.  Having completely emptied the bottle, to find out the body wants to continue with jaw grinding grief is "un-fun"!

Like reaching blindly into your toiletry bag and feeling the sweet sensation of your Mac 3 razor lacerating your fingers, so it was to be, one race after the other until Jagermeister and Whiskey dulled the sensations and nullified the singing of the local hula ladies and their ode to the Lido.  

Seriously though, I can't wait to do it again, it must be like childbirth!

 "Make pain your friend and you will never be alone".

Jamie Goodhead

River Arun 3.8km swim - BAR Race 4

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BAR Race 4 - Arun 3.8km swim - Saturday 23rd June 2012

 

Although it was overcast and with a howling wind 14 hardy MSTC athletes took to the murky waters of the River Arun. Steve Mac jetted in specially following a week of 'one on one' alpine action with his coach. With the altitude training he was hoping for another big performance. Pete Harris tried the opposite approach by avoiding swimming as much as he could before attempting the race.

 

 

Before the start there is a lot of time to kill and there were surprisingly few pre-race excuses. Mark Jordan was trying a new excuse every hour (I've been quite unwell, I'm still on antibiotics, I feel very tired etc). From my experience this number of excuses usually means someone is properly fired up for the race, and so it proved! Trevor, on the hand, barely mentioned last weeks nasty fall coming down the beacon and Jamie grunted something about having trained already that day.

 

I knew Mark wasn't really feeling that bad because we cycled over from Haywards Heath, (2½ hours of constantly cycling into a head wind) and I couldn't keep up with him. Callum and Brad kept us company - or I should say kept Mark company as they were always having to wait for me! Loz also cycled over by an even longer route (and then ran to the start of the swim!)

 

This year there were separate starts for the men and women and altogether there were about 300 swimmers. It is quite something to be in a fairly narrow waterway at the off with so many swimmers, because it is crowded and there is a lot of fighting for space. Most of us tend to look for quieter water and try to get into a rhythm but some of the stronger ones are right in the thick of it. The water was definitely faster than last year even with the headwind. It was astonishing though, to see the fast ladies carve their way through the field having started 5 minutes behind. I now realize what they have that I don't - a propeller! It is the only explanation for the amount of white foaming water they left in their wake - very impressive.

 

At the start Steve Mac sped off but Mark took a more measured approach and caught him with 1km to go. In the melee I could not say who was who around me, but Mark was looking for Steve's stroke so he knew exactly where he was. In the end he finished 21 seconds ahead in an incredible 56.18.

 

After Steve Mac, Jamie Goodhead was the next finisher, 2 minutes down in 58.22 and interestingly he won his category. He is recorded in the results as a YOB. I am not sure what he did to upset the organisers in this way, but at least he appeared to be the only one. Next year he is hoping to compete in the ASBO category!

 

Loz Wintergold started at the back of the field and gently cruised through, finishing 4th MSTC in 61.38, just 18 seconds ahead of me. I didn't notice him slip by but I am not sure I could have tried any harder if I had. Andy Jenkins had another very solid swim in 62.49. I don't know if Jon Webster and Jim Graham knew just how close they were with just 9 seconds separating them (64.03 and 64.12). Trevor managed to shrug off his road rash with 67.34 whilst Pete proved what a strong athlete he is to finish in 77.07 on very little swimming.

 

The ladies all did very well. I hope Claire Tomsett is delighted with her performance. She had never swum this distance before and was quite apprehensive before the start. 65.35 was an excellent performance. Julienne has got faster each year she has done this swim, and 68.29 continued the trend with Claire Cresswell just 32 seconds behind.

 

My performance of the day however goes to Rose Ryan. She has been working hard on her swim, but finding our time limited open water swims have not allowed her to swim as far in training as she would have liked. Nevertheless she had a superb swim to finish in 70.23.

Afterwards Loz demonstrated his new superquick T1 transition ideas (hopefully the picture is on the website) before cycling home again with Mark (still not slowing down) Jordan and myself (almost keeping up).

 

Overall it was another great day for MSTC. It is fantastic going to these events and having your friends around you, and a healthy bit of competition thrown in.

 

WELL DONE TO ALL

 

Men - Winner 48.20

 

Mark JORDAN 56.18 10pts 16.49%

Steve MacMenamin 56.39 9 17.21

Jamie GOODHEAD 58.22 8 20.75

Loz WINTERGOLD 61.38 7 27.52

Steve ALDEN 61.56 6 28.14

Andy JENKINS 62.49 5 29.96

Jon WEBSTER 64.03 4 32.53

Jim GRAHAM 64.12 3 32.84

Trevor MOORE 67.34 2 39.78

Pete HARRIS 77.07 1 59.57

 

Women - Winner 47.09

 

Claire TOMSETT 65.35 10pts 39.09%

Julienne Stuart-Colwill 68.29 9 45.24

Claire CRESSWELL 69.01 8 46.36

Rose RYAN 70.23 7 49.27

Bar Race Birdman Swim 1000m - 14th Aug

After entering on the day and looking out at the grey choppy sea and grey sky I was thinking 'hmmm is this a good idea' I had also had the thought of doing the 2km swim rather than the 1km , but stuck to the 1km as it was the BAR event... I'm very glad I did.... There were surprisingly few club members present, although I know a some people were off marshalling for Olympic preparation events. In fact there weren't that many people entered at all...a lot of DNS maybe because of the weather.

So it was left to Colin, Andrew, Jules and me to share out the points.. Jules being very happy she was guaranteed 10 points and wanting to know how much of the swim she actually had to do to get them!

I wasn't at last year's event which I had heard a lot about; especially the strong current against you on the return leg and the choppy waves making it a lot lot harder than it should have been. So I was mentally prepared for a struggle on the way back. The start was a run into the waves and out to a buoy before turning round it and West. I dived in a bit early as after a quite a few strokes I noticed Jules was still bounding through the waves beside me! I must learn that dolphin diving technique for going through waves...anyway I got behind Colin and drafted him to the buoy , everything ok so far and then round the buoy and I had no idea where Colin was anymore. There are more important things on my mind, such as the waves being a lot bigger than they looked like from the shore. I found the out leg really hard, with the waves picking me up and throwing me down... at one point I was feeling quite sea sick due to the swell and the amount of water I was swallowing. So I stopped bilateral and just breathed on the one side which was better as I took on less water. At one point a wave just left my arms flailing out of the water and just left me static trying to spot anyone else above the waves to see where to go.

 

At this point I was still thinking that the return leg was going to be worse. I hadn't yet worked out the current was going the other way from last year. My joy at not having entered the 2km was lost in a struggle to survive the waves. Finally I spotted the turn around buoy and headed back and everything became a lot easier! The waves were now carrying me along with them and I really started to shift, a wonderful feeling after the battle outwards! So I regained my form and chased down a swimmer ahead and suddenly there was the finish. Navigating round the groynes I sprinted up the beach with encouragement from Colin to run... once a triathlete always a triathlete! He later told me I overtook 3 people from the water edge to the finish line :) thats 2 more than I did in the swim.

 

So all 4 of us finished and I think we all found it a struggle, I know Jules and Andrew did, Colin maybe less as he came in 8th overall! The times were surprisingly fast, at least I think mine is ...last time I swam a 1km sea swim it was 18 mins and that was one direction with the current, this time it was 15 mins which I find hard to believe given the battle outwards but I assume they got it right! 

 

So the 1,2,3 of MTSC men was Colin (8th), Trevor(20th) and Andrew(25th) and Jules(34th) was 1st woman :)

 

Writing this now I'm tempted to say it was a great swim , its amazing what the human mind is capable of forgetting, as really I found it pretty hellish. Halfway through I was seriously thinking I might not be able to finish the event if the return leg was going to be the same or worse as the outwards leg. Thank you for letting me forget how bad it was... bring on the next one!

 

 

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Author: Trev Moore

Swimming Lake Windermere 3rd Sept 2011

Having developed a passion for open air swimming at Tooting Bec Lido and trained with many swimmers whilst they prepared for long distance events, one big swim had been on their 'rite of passage' - Lake Windermere.  A stretching 10.5 miles in England's longest lake..not to mention the cold factor.  I felt that this was a step up from my Channel relay (2007) - I wasn't to be disappointed.

So training began in earnest with Mid Sussex Marlins.  I upped my usual twice weekly sessions to three at Easter and started sea swimming in mid-May.  The first outing was an 80 minute session in 12 degree water and waves the size of houses.  I knew from then on it would be a tough training regime.  Other swims followed - Shoreham to Brighton (8km), various 5km races, several circular Brighton swims, a 7km session at Pells Pool and a 9.2km session at Tooting Bec Lido.  In August I also started to catch a 5.30am ride up to Tooting Bec to increase my weekday outdoor mileage.  I was starting to get fit!

Race day loomed and I had a mild coronary trying to gather my crew together to row me up the lake - my thanks to many of you who volunteered.  Steve Mac and Tim Creswell signed up with an evening curry to discuss strategy and tactics.  I'm not sure what Steve thought when he asked about my feeding strategy..in honesty I didn't have one!  Thank god Steve knows what he's talking about on sports nutrition matters.

 

So we convened at Euston station before a 4 hour journey took us to the Lake District, our hotel (for blind people!) checked into and off to Bowness for the last supper.  Not sure if the calming Peroni was a good idea but the lasagne was perfect.  Lights out was midnight and I started hearing the rain fall outside at about 4am.  I knew the weather was going to be grim the next day.

 

We convened for breakfast at 6.45am (with a group of very fit looking Irish swimmers) before a taxi to the start line.  Our driver pointed out a few landmarks along the way as the rain teamed down.  We registered, cleverly borrowing some safety gear I'd forgotten from some Windermere veterans, before crews, then swimmers were briefed.  Our old wooden rowing boat was loaded and I made my way to the start recognising a good few people from other swims I'd done...and triathlons!

 

The water was certainly brisk when I lowered myself in from the jetty (16°c) and within 90 seconds the gun went off.  It was 9.25am and we were swimming.  I could see a lead group make quick progress and we rendezvoused with our crews after about ½ a mile.  The rain was coming down and I could see Steve and Tim in their waterproofs.  The 15 mph wind was pushing the boats along quickly and it was a job keeping up with them (or rather them slowing down for me!).  My stroke felt strong and the cold wasn't a noticeable factor.

 

It was shame I couldn't see the mountain tops but I was gradually eating up the shoreline, even starting to recognise a few milestones.  The first feed stop saw my diet of an energy gel, lucozade sport and the odd banana whilst treading water beside the boat - this was tough and I often drifted off.  I fed every 30 minutes and by the end I could hit Steve or Tim with my bottle and empty gel from 10 yards!  After 2 hours I'd reached a childhood landmark and knew I was 6km into the swim.  My stroke still felt good.  The boys were getting damper by the minute and they took turns rowing and feeding me, with Steve urging me to up my stroke...little did he know I was going at the max and couldn't change pace even if a shark had been on my tail!

 

The fun really started at 3 hours.  I knew I was only midway and by this stage Steve had started feeding me 500ml of double strength carbohydrate drink and the odd chocolate roll.  Luckily it was made with warm water as when I stopped I was noticeably shivering.  We picked some choice places to stop - directly in front on the incoming Hawkshead ferry and beside a large, extremely cold stream that was running in to the lake.  The cold was getting to my crew's brains too!

 

The scenery along the length of Windermere is very picturesque.  I had hoped to see the peaks and steep valley sides, watch people on the lake in sailing boats and shirt-sleeves.  All I got was low cloud, incessant rain, moderate wind, a few marshals in ribs and empty water.   It wasn't the prettiest day but we did swim through some lovely water - the group of islands we navigated through, superb clarity of water, some short weedy sections, flat water & wavey water, times when I contoured the shore and saw the bottom.

 

So I ate into the miles and was starting to feel that I would make it.  Truthfully I never had any doubt that I wouldn't but by 4.5 hours I was getting bored and apparently a little blue on the lips/chin and shoulders (didn't feel it though).  I was getting 30 minute reports on how far to go from the marshals who seemed to pay us quite a few visits and at 5.5 hours I could finally see the finish - maybe 8-10 small white houses.  The finish line was near but by now my stroke was feeling a lot more "deconstructed" - it was as though I was swimming catch-up drill and was sitting low in the water. The only thing I knew would correct this was to go hard, so for the next 45 mins I did up my stroke and power.  I had a good line into the finish and, although it did feel as though I swam my slowest single kilometre ever, I could see the jetty and finish. 

 

Suddenly I looked right and saw an umbrella-wielding figure sat on a deckchair on the jetty - she blew a loud blast on her whistle and I was done.  I had reached Waterhead/Ambleside in 6 hours 32 mins and swam the 10.5 miles (17km) from Fell Foot in south Windermere.  I swam 25m to the shore and took a final celebratory pee in the lake.  I staggered over to the admin tent to shelter from the continuing rain and let Steve and Tim get me dressed.  I knew I would be cold and had to warm up fast so we went into the next door pub before I had hot water and hot chocolate.  Once they'd put down their well-earned pints I gave Steve and Tim a huge hug and spoke to Michelle to tell her I'd made it.   Chips, pasties, rum/coke and fine red wine were to follow!

It's only when you stop that you get the chance to rationalise everything.  I'd spent 4 months in training to swim England's longest lake in Speedos.  As I sat in the pub warming up the tears in my eyes were a reflection of the effort a huge team had put in to get me to the finish - my family, the swimming clubs at Haywards Heath and Tooting, the tri club, hardy swimmers I keep in touch with, people I met at events who gave me advice.  Everybody helped and I thank all of them.          

 

Some stat-o type facts:  I consumed 4198 calories but expended 6000+ calories during the swim - probably around 10,000 throughout the day.  I never moved my googles once throughout the swim because they never steamed up.  The winner took 3 hours 50 mins, which was 3 minutes outside the record.  28 swimmers started, 26 finished.  And finally, the only time it stopped raining on the day was when we arrived at the station to go home..

 

Author: Mat Record

Race 5 Arun Ironman Swim 4th June 2011

We had 13 entries from the club, but Dave Lashbrook and Sam Anderson did not race, leaving 11 hardy swimmers on the start line. This is an interesting swim as it in salt water even though it starts 2.5 miles inland. It is timed to start with the high tide so by the time you reach the finish you are swimming with the current. Theoretically this could be the case all the way along but it certainly doesn't feel it.

There were about 250 swimmers on the start line, and when that klaxon goes the water just turns to froth as everyone scrabbles for room. There is bumping, kicking, elbowing, and occasional swimming in the melee that is the first 800m. Then suddenly it all settles down and as far as I can say, is just plain boring for the next 2k as you just concentrate on keeping the effort up. Nature did its bit to keep it more interesting as a headwind in some parts of the river made it very choppy, resulting in many unexpected mouthfuls of sea water. At least that reduced the risk of cramp with a steady salt intake. It was a relief to see the A259 road bridge as Steve Mac had told us that meant 1200m to go and time to ramp up to the finish. When we passed the Ropewalk Bridge he had warned us there was just 400m to go, and we were now in the strongest current. We all felt like Olympic athletes as one good pull seemed to propel you 5 metres downstream.

Steve Mac was easily the strongest swimmer of us without Dave racing and he did not disappoint with a very strong swim finishing in 57m25s and 33rd overall. Steve Alden was 2nd home over 5 minutes behind (62.54), with Andy Jenkins just over a minute behind (64.18).

John Liebers treated it as a gentle limber up before his double Ironman attempt next Saturday and cruised home in 68.35 - some 6 minutes faster than last year. (Good luck next week, John).

Pete Harris showed that his swimming has improved massively as he surprised himself with a 69.37, just seconds ahead of Jeff Woodall (69.44) and Trevor Moore (70.21). Trevor was also delighted to get 4 BAR points! He also beat last year's time by 7 minutes. Excellent! Pete and Jeff have not done this sort of distance before so this was an amazing achievement.

Katie Walch led home the ladies with 64.52, but had only got back from Hungary the day before and had lost a couple of weeks of training.

Claire Cresswell showed that her Lanzarote training camp had really paid off with a strong 70.43 swim, which hopefully will improve her confidence as she heads towards her Ironman attempt.

Jules was rightly delighted with her swim, nearly 13 minutes faster than last year, in probably harder conditions to finish in 73.29, one place and just 13 seconds ahead of Sharon Chladek in 73.43. This was Sharon's first attempt at this sort of distance and open water, so was a superb effort.

One final mention goes to all the family support crews who came along. Some followed the race all the way down the river bank! It was a beautiful day and I think they all enjoyed it.

The Results:

Men Winner 47.27

  • Steve MacMenamin       57.25    20.91     10 points
  • Steve Alden              1.02.54    32.47      9
  • Andy Jenkins            1.04.18    35.42      8
  • John Liebers             1.07.35    42.32      7
  • Pete Harris               1.09.37    46.60      6
  • Jeff Woodall             1.09.44    46.85      5
  • Trevor Moore            1.10.21    48.05      4

 Women Winner 48.49

  • Katie Walch                  1.04.52    32.87   10 points
  • Claire Cresswell             1.10.43   44.86     9
  • Jules Stuart-Colwill    1.13.29   50.53     8
  • Sharon Chladek            1.13.42   50.98     7

Author: Steve Alden