At the end of April I finally managed to swim 400m (the super-sprint triathlon distance) non stop in the pool.
But my triathlon event is at Eton Dorney and the swim takes place in the olympic rowing lake – quite a different prospect. With the weather approaching something that looked almost like Summer, I decided it was time to get outside and have a go at swimming in open water.
I’m very fortunate that there are plenty of open water swimming options in and around Manchester. However, the nearest and most convenient is at Salford Quays. If you’d told me a year ago I would be swimming in the Quays, then I would have questioned your sanity (and mine).
But this week, I did just that.
The watersports centre offers several open water swimming sessions each week (fully supervised for safety) and you can book a coached session, hire a wetsuit and get a hot shower afterwards.
The staff were really helpful, booked me into a coached session, sorted me out a wetsuit and answered all my beginner questions like “what do you wear under a wetsuit?” (The answer is a normal swimming costume, in case you are wondering – obvious really!)
The first challenge was getting into the wetsuit – apparently it needs to be tight, but wriggling into it is clearly something I will need to practice.
There were just 2 of us in the coached session – the other lady preparing to swim the mile in Windermere at the Great Swim (and a much stronger swimmer than me).
We started with a safety briefing (filmed by the BBC who were putting together a piece on open water swimming), and then headed into the water.
This was the bit I was really dreading as I hate being cold. The water temperature was a “refreshing” 15.7 degrees. My local pool temperature is usually around 28. Quite a difference.
But actually, it was OK – the wetsuit did its work and I never felt chilled.
Our instructor took us through various drills.
Firstly getting used to swimming in open water where you are always out of your depth and the water is not at all clear. It was pretty murky but not too bad – I did think I saw a fish at one point. I certainly didn’t encounter litter, weeds and dead dogs – as some of my “friends” had suggested!
We then practised swimming in a straight line – no helpful black line along the bottom here – and how to turn around a buoy.
By this time I was absolutely knackered. Time for a hot shower and dinner!
Overall I really enjoyed it and I would definitely recommend booking a coached session for your first attempt at open water. I can’t wait to get back in and try out a circuit of the Quays.
And just to prove I really did swim…….