As a runner, and occasional Ironman, you won’t often find me at the start line of a swim. In fact Swim Serpentine 2017 was my first swim race as a single discipline. I had not signed up for it, but after the launch of the #LondonClassics I immediately became interested. Having taking part in London Marathon six times (see this years BLOG), and taking part in Ridelondon 100 this year (see BLOG), it made sense to take part.
I almost didn’t take part as the date clashed with Kew 10k, and I was already doing Reigate Half Marathon the following day. But then I saw a notification that entries were now just for the PM slot… perfect. This almost went wrong when they allocated me into the wrong wave, but this was sorted easily for me.
Having paced Kew 10k I grabbed a bacon and egg sandwich and then made my way to the start. I managed to catch a few #visorclub although I did not have my visor as it was wet from my run, I improvised. It was lovely to meet lots of people, but it was a little frustrating waiting knowing that most had already finished. But at least I had a chance to take part.
It felt like I had to wait forever to get started, to be honest I was 2 hours early because I did not know what to expect. In hindsight you could turn up 10 minutes before your start and be fine. Getting into my wetsuit was a bit of a comedy act, and I’m glad putting the wetsuit on isn’t timed.
The event was nicely organised and when it is your wave you are scanned through to check who is going in the water (and the scan you out). You then get an opportunity to have a swim to adjust to the water temperature. Some like doing this, there is no way I was going to go in the cold water and then come back out. I was part of a generic wave, in blue caps, with a number of us with our silver classics cap on. There were a few wearing gold caps and apparently these were taking part in numerous events to total 6 miles.
Then we were off… it was a slow start. I jumped in, it was cold, but I was in. At no point did I think I wouldn’t finish, but I immediately knew it wasn’t going to be fast. I had considered putting more effort in as it was a single discipline, but I’m not a swimmer and I was happy just getting through. It was cold, but it wasn’t too bad, it was a little crowded at the start, but I just didn’t have the motivation to push myself.
As always in swims there were numerous people who couldn’t sight, and kept swimming in front of me. I got kicked a few times by people going in front of me and then doing breaststroke. This really frustrates me. I’m not the most confident swimmer in the world, I can keep going but I don’t have the best technique. I could go a lot faster but when people swim in front of me it slows me and I don’t fight to get past them as I don’t want to be hit. I had my googles knocked early on and had to stop to adjust as it took in water.
The course was a mile long, so two laps for me. It was a nice simple loop, which was clearly marked. The water obviously isn’t very nice in the Serpentine, and I can still taste duck bum. After the first lap I was feeling good. Although I wasn’t going fast, I wasn’t tiring. Shortly after starting my second lap the next wave must have started. I was soon being overtaken by the pink wave stronger swimmers which was a little off putting. Before long it got very busy with more and more stronger swimmers passing me. This resulted in me being hit, and being put off my stride. The more who passed me, the slower I became, I also then cramped in my left calf. I managed to carry on swimming but I slowed more trying to stretch this off. It may have been a combination of the cold, fatigue from the morning swim, and poor technique.
I was pleased to see the finish, but I seemed to be approaching it for ages. I was helped out of the water, and staggered for a bit like a drunk man. Passing hot tubs (I wasn’t interested as wanted to get home, but nice if you fancied it) I made my way to the medals. This that did the swim got a medal, but if you had a silver cap you also got the special #LondonClassics medal.
The swim medal is decent, but look at the classics medal, that is pretty special. After receiving my medal and goody bag, which was also decent, I collected my kit bag. I had packed my dryrobe, which I am so pleased I did. It was chilly so I took off my wetsuit and put my wetsuit on. I was going to change, but instead I wore the dryrobe home. I did get some funny looks on the tube but I don’t care.
I am really pleased I did this event, and feel proud to be one of the first to receive the #LondonClassics medals. I’m not eager to take part in this event again. Not because of the event organisation, because I thought it was good. Swimming just isn’t my thing. I may do it again, if I do I would probably look to stretch myself and do the 6 miles. For now I’m pleased to be back running.