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.
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