Saturday, 28 June 2008

Heavy Weather

After being very busy last week and missing out because I left it until the last minute, this week I was a little more organised and I managed to get hold of Alex to organise an open water swim for Friday night. Everything seemed good as we left Yeovil and headed for Weymouth. It wasn't as bright and sunny as last time we headed for the coast but it looked OK. However, as we headed along the road to Dorchester we soon started to run into low cloud and the wind began to pick up.

By the time we got to Weymouth it was cloudy and windy, from a distance the water didn't look too bad though not especially inviting. As we pulled into the car park some guys that Alex knew were just walking out, heading to the beach. We quickly suited up and followed them. Once we got onto the beach and had a good look at the water it seemed even less inviting. I grew up in Cornwall and I am used to beaches on the north coast with Atlantic waves coming in, so splashing about in the waves doesn't bother me. This was very different though, it was choppy with lots of small waves and rather than splashing about we were trying to swim.

As we headed out from the beach to the first pontoon we were heading straight into the wind and waves. Sighting was hard as you needed to time being at the top of a wave to stand a chance of seeing anything. Even then it was difficult to spot where we were heading. Breathing was something else again, this wasn't an occasion for breathing with lips just above the surface. Small waves were constantly hitting us head on and all pretence of good technique seemed to go out of the window. We did eventually reach the first pontoon and after a short break headed to the second where the other guys were resting up.

Again we were swimming into the wind and waves, weaving about all over the place as we tried to sight and find the pontoon. When we reached the pontoon and dragged ourselves out the other guys were still resting there. After a short discussion and a bit of laughter about how stupid we were to be swimming in this, we decided to swim out to one of the buoys and back. We picked a buoy with the end of the harbour wall behind so we had something to sight on and four of us set off. One person decide to stay on the pontoon as he really wasn't enjoying things.

Yet again we found ourselves swimming into the wind and waves, battling the current to try and reach the buoy. I was really pleased that I seemed to be doing a reasonable job of keeping up with everyone. The waves were spoiling everyones technique and I think they were being brought down to my level as I had far less technique to ruin.When we reached the buoy I was still feeling really strong. Though I was glad when the buoy suggested for the next leg was down wind. The difference swimming with the wind and waves was incredible. It took a minute to get used to the change, felling the waves speed you up and then slow you down as you went into a trough. It was so much easier and we quickly reached the buoy and headed back to the pontoon.

As we reached the pontoon and climbed aboard we watched another pair of swimmers swimming into the wind and waves as they headed toward us. That really showed why we had been struggling. While they floated up and down with the swell, the small waves just washed completely over them. When they reached the pontoon they decided to head back to the first pontoon with us where they has left someone who had decided not to swim any further. So the group of us all headed back, with the wind and waves behind us, first to the pontoon and then the shore. A total swim time of 55 minutes.

Although it sounds horrible, the truth is I loved it. My swimming felt really good, I felt far more comfortable in the water than I did last week when it was dead flat. And, of course, it was great fun! Another plus was that I remembered my body glide and lubed up my neck so didn't have any problems with the wetsuit rubbing. All in all it was a good end to the week and a great confidence builder for the sea swim at Bournemouth next week.


Bill said...

So thats what open water is like, huh? As a newbie, I think it might be a while before I venture out. Anyway, good to hear that there is hope out there. I'm doing my first Sprint in Sept. I'll view your blog regularly to keep motivated. Cheers for that.

MikeyB said...

On my previous visit to Weymouth the sea was as flat as a mill pond and the only problem was sighting into the glare of the sun reflecting on the water. Some days are rough, some days are smooth. But rough or smooth the sea is far more invigorating and enjoyable than a pool.