Serpentine Swim 2016

The inaugural Serpentine Swim, and another fantastic swim event added to the swim calendar. My swimming had come on leaps and bounds this year, and with the exception of missing 3 months at the start of the year due to a minor medical problem, I’d managed to be fairly consistent with my swimming (with, sadly, perhaps the 4 weeks building up to this event).

Making our way through London to Hyde Park I did wonder if the event was on. There was a lack of people carrying swimming bags, and just the general weekend crowds in London. That changed when finally getting to Hyde Park where the London Marathon organisers had taken over the Serpentine and the surrounding banks with tents for changing and baggage storage, refreshment stalls and a great family activity area to occupy the kids.

Esme enjoying her 1st tube experience

We’d arrived slightly later than planned due to logistics of travelling on the tube with a double pushchair, and as such I had time for a very quick coffee before heading off to get changed. It was a surprisingly hot day and I was breaking out into a sweat pulling my wetsuit on – I couldn’t wait to get into the water!

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Making my way down the ramp (slowly, it was the steepest ramp I’ve ever experienced in an Open Water swim) the water was colder, and murkier, than expected – but fortunately this had been discovered in the ‘warm-up’ area ahead of the swim start proper.

I started off swimming well (or at least I thought) – really trying to focus on my technique and keep things under control. The swim to the bottom of the lake passed fairly quickly, but the swim back-up the far side seemed to take forever. I managed a sneaky look at my watch just past half way and was disappointed to see 20 minutes (I’d hoped for 30 minutes, and previous training had indicated 32 mins was a realistic target). The final part of the swim I’ve got a feeling technique went out the window, and I know I was zig-zagging in all sorts of directions rather than swimming in a straight-line.

Slightly disappointed to be exiting on 39 minutes and 7 seconds, but looking back I think missing swimming over the summer holidays, coupled with the Open Water venue closing its Thursday swim in August really points to the lack of swim-specific training making the biggest difference – which is really annoying after all the effort put in much earlier in the season. Reflecting a bit more now though, 39 minutes is a new mile PB for me (down 3 minutes from 42 mins in 2015), so progress is progress regardless of how small.

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An excellent day out, but whether I’ll be back for future events remains to be seen. The travel into London with very young kids is a pain, the organisers upset me slightly when they offered London Marathon ballot entry opportunities to people entering late (rather than rewarding those who supported the event from the start) and whilst the medal is fantastic, I would much rather a T-Shirt. I think next year I’ll continue with Great Swim, and who knows I might finally make it to the Great Scottish Swim in Loch Lomond (the last one of the the events that I’ve not done yet!).

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The best bit of the day, well celebrating with an ice-cream with Esme. (Sadly Iona was sick, and the day was quickly cut short as we made our way home as quickly as possible).

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