Eton Dorney Long Swim 2012

I did the “long swim” (3.8 km) at Eton Dorney on Sunday. Having raced on the Saturday as well I was a bit tired, but gave it my best shot.

Result: 11th/42 in 59:39 (yippee!)
Sunday 30 September 2012
3.8km open water swim
Race website:
USN Eton Dorney Long Swim (3.8km) September 2012
Full results:

The water was about 14-15 degC and there were just a couple of people without wetsuits out of the field of nearly 100 – seemed foolhardy to me! Brrrr. About half the entrants were doing the longer 5 km swim and set off on their 4 laps about half a lap in front of us 3.8k-ers who were doing three laps.

The front group of about 10 were really quick and I got dropped within the first few metres, but that left me in clear water at the head of the second bunch.

I went stroke for stroke with another swimmer for the first lap or so, before we started overtaking. (If I’d been cleverer I’d have drafted more; I need practice with similar level swimmers.) From that point on, it was impossible to tell who was on which lap of which race. Combined with the fact that I was utterly confused every time I looked at my stopwatch – turned out I hadn’t managed to hit the start button until the halfway point of my first lap – basically I just had to get on and swim.

Sighting was rendered almost unnecessary by the lane markers of the rowing course, because those buoys are anchored by a brightly coloured string along the bottom of the lake, which you could just follow for the two long sides of the rectangular lap.

It’s definitely the case that I find it hard to race when swimming. It’s just too hard to see your competitors. However I’d always planned this event as a competition against myself, just to put down a marker. I’d targeted breaking an hour, but from the swimming I’ve done this year I knew it was going to be fairly close. With the watch fiasco I had no idea how I was doing really.

Although the start had been deep water, the finish involved hauling yourself up a ramp and a 5m run to the finish line. My watch said 49:44, so I knew that was wrong… Eventually discovered my chip time was 59:39. Yay! 20 seconds faster than necessary, and judging from the laps I can identify from the HR trace, I did swim pretty even paced.

I got beaten by one girl and 9 men out of the field of 42. The leading guys were really quick, 45 minutes, and included Matt Molloy who’s done a 9 hour Ironman! But consistent 1:34 /100m is pleasing pace for me.

All the lakes seem to be closed for the winter from the end of September, so it’s sea swimming or back in the pool to prepare for next year now!