Therefore a Windermere swim would be a reasonable challenge.
With the exception of the 2 Way Windermere swim, all my other encounters with the lake have started at Fell Foot at the South end of the lake, as is standard with the BLDSA event, part of the reason being the prevalent winds for the UK being southwesterly.
Having completed 4 previous one ways and piloted/escorted several more from the same location, I decided on this occasion to start at The North. This would provide slightly more of a mental challenge. That said, I generally find the crossover in the northern basin from Bass Rock to Ambleside the toughest part of each swim, partly due to fatigue, partly due to conditions later in the day. So physically it may or may not be easier. I would soon know.
There would be one more additional change to the tried and tested routine. At 5:45am two of the crew (Gavin and Charlie) would head to Bowness, load the boat (we always us Electric day hire boat from Shepherds) and get ready to set sail. The final crew member (Jason) would taxi me to Ambleside where I would begin the swim alone, after an hour or so the boat should have located me around two miles into the swim.
I appreciate some would say that is a silly idea, however, I am relatively well experienced, there is zero boat traffic this early on a morning, I was using a tow float to aid their locating of me, and as stated I am very familiar with the lake.
The plan worked like a dream, bang on the hour I was joined by the boat at 7:08am, took the first feed (maxim/cnp and summer fruits) right on schedule and started the routine of swim-feed-swim-feed.
The water felt ok, I was still wearing my Suunto watch despite intending to hand it to the crew at the first feed, initially this was a good thing as being a bit of a control freak, at a mid stroke glance or at a feed I could keep myself up to date with progress. I found this information quite inspiring up to a point which I will come to soon.
From Jason's notes I can see I had a stroke rate of 62spm, I opted to go straight to 30 minute feeds after the first hour.
This went well for a few hours I had a combination of coffee and maxim with an occasional solid (jelly babies/half a croissant). Though as usual the maxim/cnp did not really agree with my stomach.
At 9:22 mid stroke in single word per breath conversation I requested some pain killers due to a blinding headache, I was suffering some nasty pain above my right eye, which kind of took me out of the groove. I took the meds at the next feed (6th) and tried to swam on. I then stopped to adjust my cap and goggles attempting to get some relief from the now distracting painful headache.
Around 10:40 I took the 8th feed and also complained of pain in the hip flexors and quads (a regular problem in fresh water!) I had fully expected this. I was still keeping an eye on the distance covered via the Suunto watch which at this feed was reading 13.6km.
I was happy in the knowledge that I had a mere 3km give or take and the one way would be 'in the bag', it has been said many times that ('mentally you only put enough fuel in the tank for the journey) meaning for example if you plan to swim 10km by 9 you will be flagging and at 10 you have given all you have got.
By 11:38 and the 11th feed I noticed the watch at 16.4km and commented to the crew words to the effect of " we should be there by now"
Suffice to say from here to Fell Foot slipway felt like an age ! The final reading being 17.68km. I am not sure if this is the route (which looks excellent in my opinion) or more likely a GPS error/blip which has been known previously in training. Whatever it is, I have learnt to hand over the watch in future.
To summarise I was and am happy with another Windermere swim in 5hours 58 minutes, not a PB, but over 10 miles is a good training swim all the same.
Thankyou as always to my awesome team, Gav for piloting again, Charlie for feeding all day and Jason (Mr Reliable) for updating social media and never taking his eye off me for the entire swim.
I fancy something longer before the season is out!?
P.S. I also need to sort those fingers out (photo above)..no wonder it aches today