Monday, 10 July 2017

Event Review : Starlight Swim

I'm in love with swimming this year. Possibly because I'm not getting to do as much of it as I'd like to at the moment, at least not as much open water swimming as work clashes with most times that the lakes are open. Just as with running there are quite a lot of different events to take part in as a swimmer, aquathlon, triathlon, river swims, endurance events, lake swims and night swims! This year   Barnes Fitness hosted their first Starlight Swim at Dinton Pastures and I was excited to be on the participant side of this, taking a leave of absence from usual event set up duties.
With 400m, 750m and 1500m distances on offer we decided to get maximum value for money and duly entered the longer distance. More time in the water (we weren't approaching this as a race as such), more chance of seeing stars as we swam! The start time was advertised as 9:30pm but the competitors email informed us that the start time would be somewhat "fluid" to give us the best chance of being in the water as the skies darkened.
We rocked up to Dinton Pastures Activity Centre at about 8:30pm to register and soak up the atmosphere, chat to fellow swimmers and suss out the water temperature. The activity centre boasts changing rooms, hot showers, plenty of loos, and parking galore so it was all very civilised. The water temperature was reported to be 21 degrees, there was lots of umm-ing and ah-ing about whether to wear a wetsuit or not. As I'm yet to swim in open water without a wetsuit I opted for this not to be the first occasion. I didn't over heat and so no regrets. Every swimmer was issued with a bright swim cap (colour dictated by the distance they would be swimming), as many glow sticks as we could attach to ourselves, and a balloon with an LED inside.
The race briefing introduced us to the kayakers who would be keeping us safe in the water and outlined the courses, then it was into the water. We were quite the spectacle getting into the water to acclimatise amidst the mass of weeds at the edge of the lake! Spirits were high, goggles fitted, off we went...
I lost my balloon within the first couple of hundred meters; it wasn't a helium filled one and got caught under my arm as I swam. The surface of the lake was soon strewn with orphaned balloons as the swimmers powered down the lake. The water was lovely and warm and far less weedy away from the edge. The ducks seemed completely oblivious to the swimmers, so much so that I had to adjust course a few times to avoid them! The course was a thin loop of 750m, so twice round for us. The further into the swim I got, the more comfortable I became and so although I alternated between crawl and breaststroke, the periods of crawl became longer. I was reassured that whenever I switched to breaststroke, there was a kayaker by my side checking that I was ok!
Dean finished in around 37 minutes and I came in at around 40 minutes (I forgot to start my Garmin until I was a hundred metres in or so, and forgot to stop it when I came out of the water so that's official time not Strava time). Every finisher was awarded a medal, hot chocolate was available and there were some great prizes awarded to the first male and female in each category. I thoroughly enjoyed the event and can't wait to do another, especially since having decided not to race it this time, I would like to have see what I am really capable of.
In the meantime, on Wednesday evenings until the end of September, we can swim in the lake on either the 750m swimming course or 400m circuit for just £3.50 a session (£27 for a 2 month pass). It's a fully marked course with water safety on the lake and wetsuits are available to hire.
Do you swim in open water? Are you a "skins" swimmer or wetsuit only? Fancy a night swim? Check out events at your local lake (three of ours offer night swims in season).

No comments:

Post a Comment