Saturday 12th September brought with it probably the best days weather we had seen for weeks, I set out from home around 8am to head across Country toward Ambleside the host venue for the Great North Swim, I sighted Ullswater enroute and noticed that in was ‘flat as a pancake’ the sun was shining, the conditions couldn’t have been better, Lake Windermere was only a few miles away and was sure to be the same…after a little car trouble I arrived at one of the park and walk areas in good time to suss out exactly what the procedure was to be.
The helicopters, tannoy system and crowds could be heard from some distance, the atmosphere was great with the amount of spectators being very impressive. Having dropped off my baggage in a secure area, I settled down to watch the Elite Ladies and Men’s races, both of whom swam at break neck speed. Several celebrities were in attendance including Rebecca Addlington who started the Elite Ladies race and was very keen with her verbal encouragement! As can be seen below...
After the elites I took the opportunity to watch the ‘Orange Wave’ depart the start line at 1.30pm, I wanted to see the numbers involved per wave and the actual point I was going to enter the water. All went smoothly and I was mentally prepared, I was changed (in the heated marquees) in no time and walked the short distance over the carpeted surface and swiftly cleared through the ‘check in’ to sample the water in a small warm up area, before too long I stood at the front of the pack and waited for the countdown.
The course was marked with a series a large yellow buoys, in an out and back type route. At the hooter, sounded by Olympian David Davies I ran into the water over the timing mats and headed off on my mile, I was in a group of about a dozen swimmers and felt comfortable for the duration of the swim, the only difficulty being sighting the buoys after the half way point due to the position of the glaring sun.
Before I knew it the swim was over, I exited the water and again ran over the timing mats, posed for an official photograph, collected a finishers bag and that was that.
And so, my return to open water was complete, I thoroughly enjoyed the event, the organisation of which was first class. The greatswim.org website has now published the results….in my wave of 201 swimmers I was eighth to finish, I was 35th in my age group of 660, and 302nd overall /207th male from 6000 entries. Although a little disappointed with my time, the day was worthwhile, I would recommend it to anyone and everyone.