When the entries were opened on the BLDSA website for this years Ullswater swim, I recall thinking back to 2011 when I had previously swam with Dave Neal kayaking. I distinctly remembered the water being very warm at 20 degrees C (almost too warm) and the conditions being perfect, it was like a millpond. I therefore had no hesitation entering this year and fully expected a lovely swim once more after all in was mid August and the height of the British summer !
So, an early start on Saturday 15 August 2015 for what was possibly my last BLDSA event of the season, I headed across the A66 for the relatively short trip at 85 miles to Glenridding, where I had arranged to meet Karen Throsby who had kindly offered to be my kayak support.
I had arrived in good time and had over an hour to spare before the predicted start time of 0945, the usual suspects arrived and before too long I had managed to eat some breakfast (a cold tin of rice pudding and a banana) after which it was time to be counted into the water.
I was soon brought to reality I walked waist deep, it was nowhere near the 2011 temperature and felt quite fresh!
The start was uneventful, I planned on taking the first km easy and feeding every 45 minutes. I was trying to maintain some good form after some video analysis of the latest Windermere swim back in July which showed some failings in my technique.
The first 45 minutes soon passed, the water still felt fresh with anticipations of suffering as the day went on. As soon as we reached the first land bark after about 1400m the wind picked up, maintaining a good route became a challenge for both myself and Karen.
My feeds continued at 45 minutes and were delivered in the form of cold sports drink and a gel on a line, I was missing the warm feeds but this wasn't possible with just a kayak for support.
Karen was keeping me updated with information and was happy with our progress at each feed stop.
It was going well, though I was starting to suffer with the wind and the cold. After about 8km I was pretty much spent, I felt like we were making no forward progress at all, this remained the case until I swam through some shallows and finally had some visual confirmation of making headway.
The last mile was brutal for me. The toughest swim this year by far, way harder than the CofC or the latest Windermere.
Eventually I touched the yellow pencil indicating the end of the swim
3hours 48 minutes for just over 7 miles. 8 minutes down on 2011 but pleased to finish. One of those swims I will put in the bank and recount next time I am suffering.
As I exited the water Jean asked "did you enjoy that?" and my reply was quite simple. "No not one bit!" soon after the this for some reason I had a five minute bout of not being able to speak correctly, I had developed a severe lisp and was unable to swallow.
This soon passed. I presume it was just a symptom of after drop.
Having warmed up it was off to the pub for the presentations and the subsequent drive home.
Thanks as always to the BLDSA for organising this event and and providing safety cover and of course to Karen for listening to my moans and groans !