Tuesday 6 July 2010

British Gas Great London Swim, Royal Albert Dock, London, Saturday July 03, 2010. 74th position out of 3,143 finishers.

Above: Official finish certificate for my 1 Mile (1,600+ Metres) Great London Swim. A much better time than two weeks ago at The Great East Swim, and over 100 Metres more.

The logistics of getting to the Great London swim were quite complex due to me having to leave London after the race to go directly to Dover to be part of the 'Team Iryna International' English Channel relay team which was due to swim at about 03:30am the next morning (July 04, 2010). So Beccy and Luca left in Beccy's car, and they followed me to London as I drove in my car. It was a scorching hot sunny day, so much better than the conditions for the Great East Swim two weeks before. I had a swim bag ready for a 1 mile swim, and about 3 others packed with clothes, food and swim kit enough for about 20 hours in The English Channel.

When we arrived I studied and memorised the course (pictured above) as we walked the entire length of The ExCel Centre, which was simply huge.

Above: Beccy and I with Luca on first arrival at the event. The Royal Albert Dock venue was most impressive.

Having sussed everything out, I went to the changing tent and put the god damn awful wetsuit on and decided that I probably wouldn't do this race again, as no matter what the water temperature is (it was 21C today) wetsuits are mandatory, not due to the race, but due to the rules and regulations laid down by The Royal Albert Dock. I simply detest wearing them. This was the third time ever and it felt awful.

We headed over to the starting area at 11.00am and Beccy zipped me up. I was absolutely cooked! I felt restricted in movement and totally claustrophobic in it. How can people feel comfortable in these things??? I registered my timing chip and walked into the area where all the swimmers had gathered for the 11.30am start. We must have looked like a bunch of seals all lined up on a beach!

Everyone was getting into the roped off training area so I thought I would acclimatise myself to the conditions. I got into the water and just floated on top as if I had a rubber ring on. These suits are definitely cheating in my opinion. There's no achievement getting in cold water and swimming with a wetsuit on. It's just not cricket!

Luca and Beccy were on the dockside and Beccy was trying to show Luca where I was "Look, he's the one with the black wetsuit and purple swimming hat and goggles on!". He merely had to look at 300 people all similarly dressed to find out which one was dad! lol.

At 11.26, we moved forwards towards the start line where I downed 750ML of Herbalife H30 Pro Isotonic drink, but today, unlike The Great East Swim where I got bogged down in bodies, on top, beside and beneath me, I had a different tactic. These swims are not about who crosses the finish line first, they are about who gets the fastest time. To get the fastest time, you need to be able to swim in the water, not be bounced around on top of other swimmers unable to swim. Your time starts when you cross the start line, and finishes when you cross the finish line, irrespective of who finishes in front of you. Therefore,I was going to start right at the back, and get some clear water to swim in. Make sense? It did to me.

After the warm up, there was a 10...1 count down, and off everybody charged. Except me. I just stood there and when nearly everyone was in the water (about 300 of them male and female) other than about 8 people, I crouched down, and ran across the start line diving into some open water and started swimming. It was great. I was actually swimming!

Within a minute or so, I caught up some of the trailing swimmers who were sparsely populated in the water, and looking up, I swum round them with no problems, and just a few clashes of elbows etc. The usual stuff. Already, I was pleased with my new tactics.

I was at about 85% effort for the entire race, and felt good. My only errors were to go too wide over towards the right of the buoys, which meant I had to cut back in to go round the buoys losing me valuable seconds. On the last buoy before I turned to start heading back, I was a good 20 Metres wide of the buoy. So I must practise swimming in a straighter line for any future Open Water races I might enter.

As I turned for home, with about 600 Metres to go, I upped the pace more, and started to pant and gasp for breath taking in at least 3 mouthfuls of the black water of The Royal Albert Dock. Again I ran wide and as I saw the finish, I had to come in from the right to enter the finishing funnel. I slapped my hand on the electronic timing board of the elite race, but we had about another 20 Metres to go to our finish line, and we had to climb out and run over the finish line.

We were helped out by people standing on the pontoon, and then sprinted across the finish line where the time stopped. I was pleased to find out later that despite keep swimming too wide, I had completed the 1 mile course in 24 Minutes, 27 seconds, finishing 74th overall out of 3,143 finishers. If I learn to swim in a straighter line, I think I can improve on that time considerably though.

Above: Overall race time and position, and with Luca and my finishers medal after the race.

Women's Elite Race

Below are some photos taken just after the end of my race, for the finish of the women's elite race.

The race was won by Great Britain's Cassie Patten, followed by GB's Keri-Anne Payne and Jana Pechanova of Czech Republic in third position. The full results can be found by clicking here.

Men's Elite Race

Below are pictures of the start and end of the men's elite race.

Above: Great Britains Olympic Silver Medallist, David Davies finished in 10th position. English Channel World Record Holder, Petar Stoychev (3 photos up with towel over shoulder) finished in 3rd position.

After guiding Beccy and Luca out of London, throwing my Great London Swim bag into Beccy's car, and ensuring I had everything ready for The English Channel, we said goodbye and I headed off to Dover for an extremely long 30 hours ahead to swim in the 'Team Iryna International' English Channel relay team. A full update will follow shortly.

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