Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Glow in the Dark...!?

  Pleased to say I have had some consistency with five swims last week all of which were outdoors, Monday 22 June I visited The North Sea at Seaton Carew, alone as usual now, I noticed on arrival the sea was looking a bit angry. I was on the verge of forgetting it without safety cover but talked myself around and waded into the water. I had no choice but to dive straight into the breakers and fight my way to about 300 metres from shore where the water was more swimmable. Once out there I checked my watch and headed North along the coast to my regular turnaround point, the swells were big and pretty much head on, the short leg is typically about 8 minutes however due to the conditions it was 15 minutes before it was time to head South, similarly the Southbound leg is around 20 minutes but today it was closer to 35, just shows what a massive impact conditions can have on an open water swim. I was very pleased to have stayed to swim and felt great exiting the water after an hour at 57f.

Tuesday Morning was the opposite in comparison, flat sea, sun shining and company in the shape of John F, timings were back to normal albeit I was swimming back and forth to John to check on his welfare, 75 minutes today at 57-58f, and a very creditable 55 minutes for John, what a difference a day makes.

Thursday I couldn't get to the beach 'til 4pm after work and to be honest I was tired before I even set off, having missed Wednesday I wanted to try at least a dip, so I was delighted to notice the glassy conditions and high water, another hour alone and no problems with the water temperature.

Friday was going to be a reconnaissance day. I drove to Seaton purposely at low tide, intending to walk the route to the North Gare of the River Tees in order to check for hazards before attempting the swim in the future, I walked past some scary looking iron groins that were covered in rust and the remains of a shipwreck from the 1800s only the wooden ribs of which can now be seen as the remainder has long since gone..

   About another 1500m South my attention was drawn what appeared to be a rocky outcrop at the base of a beacon, it was producing large amounts of white water covering an area of about ten square metres. I spoke with a local fisherman who was beach casting and was informed the white water was in fact discharge from Hartlepool Nuclear Power Station, now that was a worry, the turbulence created was of sufficient concern for me to call the power plant and ask some questions; they advised me not to swim near the discharge outlet which was described as effluent, amounting to millions of gallons 24/7 365 days a year, the water they pump out had been used as a coolant and enters the sea at no more than 30 degrees C, no wonder the fish and seals like it down there! Mark Potter from  British Energy said it should be fine if I can stay a few hundred metres away......yeah right, I had visions of him sat there eating doughnuts with his feet up like Homer Simpson at the Springfield power plant, laughing at this glow in the dark swimmer.

Finally I reached the North Gare and explored some rock pools where I saw more star fish than ever before, the water was crystal clear too, the walk back to my swim area was a long one around 45 minutes so it would be a long swim but not one I fancy doing alone just yet. I settled for another hour alone and headed home.
Even more contrast to these swims was Saturdays visit to Ellerton Lake, I had arranged to get up early after night shift to swim with Chris Pearson and his tri friend Sarah, I was tired but the weather was great, the others started first before I dived into the 67f water, the warmest I had experienced since 2007, we swam some intervals and generally worked hard for 75 minutes, I even managed to get them to shed the rubber for the final ten minutes, I dont think Chris will be converted to speedos but Sarah seems to be very tempted.

Other news I have entered the BLDSA Derwent Water 5 mile event at the end of July which will be a nice stepping stone to Windermere 10 miles and future swims of double the distance!!


Dave said...

The power station effluent would be nice to swim through! It'd be warm enough. I swam though the warm water discharge from a desalination plant in Aruba and it was like a hot bath, beauty!

I'm working on Hartlepool's sister station on Heysham and i've had to resist the doughnuts a few times.

Mark said...

Doh ! Have you sussed out the temperature at Derwent yet Dave ?