Just keep swimming

Yesterday was challenging. Good challenging, mind. The sort of day that, when you’re done and know you have given it your all, squeezed every ounce of effort from your muscles, you know you can sleep happily, satisfied that it was a day well spent.

A couple of years ago, while stand up paddleboarding (SUP) at the Blue Mile event in Plymouth, I wondered if I would ever be able to swim a mile. Given that I am not a strong swimmer and have always been scared of deep water (for fear of  toe nibblers), I put it on the ‘some other day’ list.

Arriving home post-Pacific in June and needing a short term goal, I decided some other day had arrived and that I ought to get swimming. I signed up for the Aquatriathlon in this year’s Blue Mile event. Swim, SUP, kayak – one mile of each. For training I clocked up a few hundred laps of our local pool and did a couple of river swims with handy tips from swimming machine Dan Martin.

As a warm up, I raced in the SUP mile on Saturday against Olympians Etienne Stott and Tim Bailie (winners of the C2 whitewater slalom in London this year) and loved it. As a rule, Sarah + ocean + paddle = happy, so to round the harbour wall and look across the Hoe into the late afternoon sun was deeply calming and invigorating at once.

Sunday’s triathlon was a mission and a half. I clocked my mile swim thanks to stamina rather than style and in spite of drinking heaps of the sea with every attempt at a breath as the waves chopped into my face.  It was peaceful to look down into the greeny blues of the water, watching bubbles spinning off my wrists and the occasional fish glide by. I was happy to make it back to the transition for SUP and kayak, triumphant inside at having nailed my mile. What a great event – for the challenge, for the atmosphere, for encouraging folk out on the water.

And everyone knows, once you’ve nailed a mile and accepted there are mostly no toe nibblers in the water…there’s no stopping you.

Here’s my friend Dave Cornthwaite showing the world just that as he swims 1,000 miles down the Lower Missouri. As yet, no toe nibblers.

Sarah x

PS Triathletes, I salute you. Your game is hardcore.

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6 Responses to Just keep swimming

  1. Justine says:

    Yeah!!! Well done & I’m glad you had fun (and still have your toes!).

    See you soon in Wales for some metaphorical (or actual) swimming !

  2. Sarah says:

    Actual Justine, actual! Claire and I have already decided we need to nail a river, a lake and the sea. Shall we book you in for all three?!

  3. katia vastiau says:

    Sarah, if you nailed THAT mile, you can swim any mile. The swimming is the only thing i felt comfortable about as I’m just a swimmer and those choppy water definitely got me out of my comfort zone! I think I could still taste the salt when drinking my coffee this morning! : )
    It’s a bug, you’ll see… if you’re ever in Oxfordshire, come along, we’ve got lovely lakes and the Thames is a nice playground too! x

  4. Vladimir B says:

    Hey Sarah,
    Isn’t it great to overcome your fear of something? Having done few tris myself I can attest that open water is not your grandfathers pool. I’m amazed by you and was following your journey for the past couple years. One would think swimming a mile is nothing comparing to rowing a Pacific :-)
    I hope you will be able to complete the loop one day! If you ever end up in the East coast of USA near Washington DC send me email. I would love to treat you with nice dinner and listen to your stories.
    Vlad B

  5. Dave Read says:

    congrats. Swimming is the best (I am a little bit biased). Look forward to hearing when you attempt the Pacific again

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