Well, the Channel swimming season is going to kick off hopefully in the next couple of days, so good luck to everyone planning to get wet this summer. As a little pre-Channel season taster, we were treated this weekend to the excitement that is the Manhattan Island Marathon Swim, which included a number of swimming friends, plus a host of 'names' who I've never had the privilege to meet, but whose reputation precedes them. It was, by all accounts, one hell of a day out on the water, with lots of lumps and bumps to deal with. Special congratulations go to the overall winner, 22 year old Abby Nunn, but massive plaudits all round. There was some fantastic swimming, resulting in a 100% completion rate. You can see the final results here.
Elsewhere, this was also the weekend for the Great North Swim, one of the biggest (the biggest?) mass participation swimming events in the world, involving thousands of people completing 1 or 2 miles swims in Lake Windermere. The Great Swims have been absolutely central to the rise of open water swimming in this country, offering an exciting, safe and well-run challenge in a beautiful location. But sadly, the weather had other ideas. As those in the UK don't need to be told, the weather here has been appalling for weeks, with howling gales, driving rain and plummeting temperatures. And so, as the GNS weekend arrived, so did some of the worst conditions the region has seen, with a month's worth of rain falling in a single day in some places, causing flooding and general misery. In response, the GNS team eventually had to concede and the races for Friday and Saturday both had to be cancelled, although today's events (Sunday) are going ahead as I type. I read a few fairly snotty responses online to the cancellations, but most took it on the chin for what it was - bad luck. While those conditions may have been okay for some of the more experienced swimmers, for many GNS swimmers, the mile swim takes them to the edge of their capabilities; the difficult conditions, then, constituted a significant safety risk...not least because of the problems of providing effective safety kayak cover in high winds. So, while it is deeply disappointing for everyone who trained for it (and worked to prepare delivering the event itself), safety always has to come first. Bad luck everyone...but it'll be there another day.
So, the season is up and running, albeit in a somewhat disrupted and stormy way. I know several relay teams and a couple of solos who are hoping to get across the Channel next week, and am thinking calm thoughts for the weather for all of them. Happy swimming everyone.