This weeks blog comes from David Barlow who travelled to the UK Ice Swimming Championships as part of Team Vigour.
UK Ice Swimming Championships Doncaster Sat 24th/ Sunday 25th Feb 2018
It was always going to be a busy weekend but with an earlier than anticipated start on Saturday morning of 02.30, myself and Robert took to the road for the long drive from Glasgow down to Doncaster. Robert was committed to helping out with the event and so we took the red eye M74, M6 and A66 south arriving at about 07.15 in time for breakfast, with a quiet, smooth journey apart from Robert’s occasional comments about my driving velocity in between solving world problems between the two of us!
The Saturday was taken up with the championship 1 km event with our Vigour relay team member Nick Hungerford swimming. Checking the water temperature on arrival, it was a pleasant 3.6C. Great Ice Swimming conditions! The swimming setup was very good with 25m lanes and the sun shone nearly all day but with a very cold easterly wind.
There were many fantastic swims witnessed that day, Nick completed an amazing 1km swim in a fantastic time of 18:44 coming in 14th male overall and first in his gender age group. Well done Nick! 1st place overall on the day was taken in a new UK record time of 13:20 by our local hero James Leitch from Paisley who was defending his title from last year at Loch Lomond. As a spectator, I enjoyed the event thoroughly on the day watching some amazing swimmers.
The schedule finished at 15.00 and it was then back to check into our hotel and get comfortable to watch the Scotland v England rugby international from Murrayfield. That was certainly a highlight of the day and we were delighted to see Scotland play out of their skins for a well deserved victory. Coincidentally, I had packed my kilt outfit for wearing to the event dinner on the Saturday evening. I have never worn it with so much pride!
Our other Team Vigour members Bryn Dymott and Julie Lloyd joined us later on Saturday for the event dinner on Saturday evening.
On to Sunday and it was going to be a packed day, filled with exciting swims. Once again the sun as out all day with a cold easterly blowing.
First up was myself and Julie Lloyd in the 500m Freestyle event. I was in Heat 1. I have to confess to being a little nervous due to the fact I had never swum in this kind of setup before outdoors and it has always been open water ice swimming for me until now. I was a little concerned about the narrow lanes and the turns. Anyway by the time I got to the water I was ready. Down the steps and into the 3.6C water. Dowse the head, under the rope, hold on to the turning board and wait for the start horn. Off we go. I was so pleasantly surprised about how easy this turned out to be despite my concerns. I caught the lane rope a couple of times but nothing to cause me any major issues. I finished comfortably 12th male overall in a time of 12:01 which I was very happy with and second in my gender age group. On to heat 2 and Julie Lloyd who had a fantastic swim finishing 7th female overall in a time of 11:32. Julie also came first in her gender age group! Well done Julie!
Following my 500m swim I knew I had 1.5 hours to get myself back up to temperature before multiple dips ahead in the shorter events. Quickly dried and dressed in my multiple layers, hats boots and sporting my newly purchased Swimzi XK as an outer layer, I took to the tarmac and started gentle jogging progressing slowly up to full blown short sprints to get the blood flowing and the body temperature back up. It worked a treat and I was warm and ready 30 minutes ahead of time.
Next up were the other shorter events and first was Nick Hungerford in the 100m Freestyle event. Nick had another amazing swim finishing 9th male in a fantastic time of 1:20 and second in his gender age group. Next was the 50m Freestyle with myself and Nick competing. Nick finished 4th male in a time of 0:34, 2nd in his gender age group and myself 9th male in 0:53, 3rd in my gender age group.
With only minutes to spare and not worth getting dressed again, next up was myself and Bryn Dymott in the 50m Breaststroke. Bryn finished 6th male in a time of 0:53 , 1st in his gender age group. Well done Bryn! I had a nice swim finishing 7th male in a time of 1:02 and 2nd in my gender age group behind Bryn.
There were other events including the 100m medley, 50m butterfly and 25m fun relay event which we were not participating in.
Finally, after lunch it was time for our relay swim featuring Team Vigour – myself, Julie, Bryn and Nick. A truly international team – Australia, Scotland, England and Wales! Robert came running out to the car park to look for me as we were being called and I was on the phone – woops! We quickly sorted out the swimming order from slowest to quickest swimmer swimming last. Our team performed admirably finishing in 10th place from 14.
It was then time for the long drive home which, thankfully, went without issue and we arrived home about 19.30 on Sunday evening.
Overall it was an excellent first experience for myself and some of the team swimming in this kind of event. The event was well run and was pleasurable to be part of. All of the events were filmed admirably by Robert and thanks to him for that and his very vocal support from the margins! I would like to thank all of my fellow team members for their mutual support and excellent team spirit and I hope that we can attend future events of this nature and get more of our swimmers involved and perhaps more teams together.
Monday Night Swim Session
Our weekly swim sessions are at Hamilton College, in the water from 7pm.
Winter Swim Session
Hope you can join us at Bardowie Loch on Sunday, we're in the water by 10am.
Please keep an eye on social media with regards to this Sundays swim !