Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Event Review : Dinton Uber Swim

It's half past six on a somewhat blustery Saturday morning and I'm stomping around in wellies attempting to put up a gazebo near the shore of Black Swan Lake at Dinton Pastures Country Park. It feels rather early to be doing battle like this but the organisers have been onsite for at least an hour already putting up signs and inflating buoys that mark the course for the Dinton Uber Swim. This event is unlike any other I've come across because to get to that finish line you must first swim around 3,000 metres in two lakes and tackle three separate entry and exit points.
The gazebo is wrestled into position and pegged down just as the first competitors start arriving to register. They're a keen bunch, these swimmers. Around 60 had signed up in advance with a handful of  on the day entrants too; soon the lake side was buzzing with people in wetsuits and red swimcaps asking about the water temperature (14 degrees). A collective gasp goes up as the gazebo makes a break for it. The hot chocolate flasks will just have to brave the elements today.
By 7:55am all swimmers and supporting kayakers are in the water waiting for the off. There's a count down, an air horn blast and a flurry of arms head off towards the first buoy. I'm sited at the second exit point on the course, where people have a short distance on foot to the smaller lake. The bank gets a bit slippy and helping hands are offered. The last two swimmers are accompanied by their own personal escorts. The very last swimmer decides that it's a bit too much for her today and decides to drop out so I walk her back. I'm pleased she's in good spirits, having realised she was asking a lot of herself that day.
"I think I'm hallucinating, Terry Pratchett is in a kayak beside me"
As we arrive back at the start some swimmers have already finished but we get to see the majority come over the line to claim goody bags and hot drinks. As I glance at my watch I am staggered that it's only around 9:30am. All these people have swum 3km before breakfast and have the whole day ahead of them still. Now that's really something.
The Dinton Uber Swim, or indeed any similar event, is a great way to keep your swim training on track over the winter and a great way to start the open water season (if you're not one of these hardy souls who swims all winter anyway). Consider adding this to your race calendar next year or look out for something similar in your local area.

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