By Steve Baker
Saturday 29th June started with a bright clear and sunny morning. A heat wave was forecast and by the briefing it was already 30 degrees in the bowl created by the buildings. Surrey Quays, the venue, is a large dock surrounded by residential buildings and the air is very still.
The water is deceptive, looks a little grey but is actually fresh and clean (ish).
The briefing talked about the cold shock of a 21-degree water… really?
There were 2k, 3k and 5k races and I was representing Penguin in the latter. There were lots of young swimmers in all the events which is really nice to see given the predominance of pool swimming for age group swimmers.
The biggest risk was vertigo from going around a 500m loop 10 times. That is, of course, if you don’t include failing to count properly.
5k is a long way – 3 and a bit miles – made worse by 10 laps of a square course with 39 turns, swum anti-clockwise which is not the best for right-sided breathers. For those unused to distance swimming, the turns do change your swimming immensely. It is tough swimming strongly for an hour and a half with no lines to guide.
For me, this was the first time in the London Region Open Water Championships since significant shoulder surgery and it made winning the over-60s category especially sweet. Nice to bring home a Regional and County medal for West London Penguin.