In spite of the rather revolting weather, I've had a tough, but fun, weekend of swimming. On Saturday morning, I went to Bosworth as usual, but only swam for just over an hour as I was trying to save myself for what was to come. Then, in the afternoon, Julie Ryan (who I met on the Malta trip and who is swimming the Channel at the beginning of August) came down and we drove down to Milton Keynes to do the Big Cow 1km open water race. As distances go, it's quite a bit less than I'd normally do, but I do this race every year (with a wetsuit), if I can, so it's a good benchmark for my progress. It was a big, fast field, and I ended up coming in 32nd overall (out of 99), 11th of all the women, and, as far as I can tell, the first female veteran. But I was really pleased to see that I had taken 1 min 20 secs off last year's time - so perhaps all the training is paying off after all, in spite of my frustrations last week at my feeble sprint times. Julie had a great swim, too - her first ever race. She caused a huge stir by doing it without a wetsuit, and when she finished, the announcer told everyone that she was going to be swimming the Channel. Lots of people came up to wish her luck, and there was a lovely, friendly atmosphere (there always is at those events - I'd heartily recommend them to any triathletes out there).
Then today (Sunday) we went off to Swan Pool to do our real challenge for the weekend - a 6-hour qualification swim, organised by Dan Earthquake of the Sandwell Lifeguard Channel Swimming Club. The weather was vile, and it was bucketing with rain as Julie and I drove there, our hearts sinking by the minute. By the time we got there it was really unappealing, but we set out our bottles on the lakeside, Vaselined ourselves up, and at 11am, off we went. The first couple of hours were pretty grim - everything was very grey and it was pouring with rain (although it's quite nice being at surface level and seeing the rain hitting the water - you have to take your entertainment where you can during a long swim!). But the water was warmer than we had feared, and we all trudged on until we were finally rewarded, after about four and a half hours, with a glimmer of sunshine through the clouds, which lifted the spirits enormously. I felt like the acclimatisation work I've been doing really helped with the water temp, but I did find the swim quite tiring, and I really noticed the difference between the long sea swim I did in Malta and the lake swim, where there is less bouyancy. By the last hour, I was starting to get groin pains and a bit of lower back ache, which I never got in Malta. But none of this was hugely problematic, and I was in pretty good shape when I got out (although I did have to be momentarily propped up by Dan as I was getting out as the shift to vertical sent me a bit wobbly). Julie had a fantastic swim too and is clearly in great shape for her upcoming swim. Well done, Julie.
So, in spite of some very unpromising weather, a good weekend all round and some really good, confidence-building swims.