Last weekend I had one very early night followed by a very early morning to go swim in the Thames for the Henley Classic.
My day started on Saturday night with a 7:30pm bedtime. I can say I was asleep by 8pm as was exhausted from my teaching course that day. I actually slept really well. My alarm went off at 1:30am and I got up with some bleary eyed cats wondering what the hell I was doing, grabbed my bag and headed out.
I had to drive for just over an hour to get to the swim, but it was lovely and quiet and when I got close I joined a stream of cars heading the same way so didn’t have to worry about getting lost.
The thing to note with this swim is that there is some walking involved. The registration is pretty much in the middles of the 2.1km course, so you have to walk to the start and then walk back from the finish. However the bonus is that this means there are no turns on the swim!
The swim started with a torch lit walk to the start and briefing. They only did one briefing for all the waves, but as the waves started fairly soon after each other that worked great. I was in the women’s open wave, which meant I had a pink hat and would be timed. There were also elite, means, and non-timed waves depending on your preference.
It gradually got lighter, but we weren’t able to see the sun rise as it was very cloudy. The first wave started at 4:30am and my wave went off at 4:48am. I started near the front, but let a couple rows be ahead of me as didn’t know the field. I realised this was the wrong move and I should have just gone at the front when I quickly caught up with people and had to work my way around them for a first 5 minutes of the swim. I wasn’t racing, but I wanted to swim well, so didn’t want people holding me up.
I felt strong during the swim and it went quite quickly. I only saw one distance marker at about half way as I was over to the right and they were on the left side of the river. It didn’t worry me as I just kept the pace I was comfortable at while pushing slightly. I easily caught up the back of the previous wave and then even caught up with some of the men from the wave in front of that. I knew there were around 20 women ahead of me from my wave so I felt in a really good position.
The only trouble I had was that my had decided slip upwards during the second half of the swim and it pulled my googles tighter. I could feel the pressure, but refused to stop to sort it out as it wasn’t coming off completely. The last quarter of the swim felt hard and I wanted it reach the end. I was catching up with more people so lost my clear water and the hat issue was annoying.
I then could see people further ahead moving left so knew the finish gantry would be somewhere, but it seemed to take ages to appear. Then suddenly I was swimming under the gantry and batting my wrist against the timing device to record my finish. Just after this was where they were taking the finishing photos, but I needed to pull my hat off and keep moving out of the way so it really looks like I’m drowning. They didn’t catch my thumbs up, which am sad about, but for once I actually quite like the photos as I can see the smile in my eye.
Then was the walk back to the main area to get my time and medal. I was really pleased with my time of 38 minutes as I had never done this swim before or even swum upstream of a river before so didn’t know what to expect. I think I could have gone quicker, but was not worried about that really, I just wanted a good swim and that is what I had.
I then changed, and headed home and back to bed. The prize giving was not untik 7:30am and I was on my own and was finished and changed by 6am I decided not to hang around. SO I was home by 7:30am and was back in bed for 8am to catch up on sleep.
Overall it was a good event. I was jealous of the people who didn’t have far to come, but not so of the people who had camped. I would definitely recommend this event to any swimmer as it was a nice distance to swim and as there were no corners I can say there was no hassle or risk of being pushed under, even at the start as it is a wide course everyone was spread out. A great swim in conclusion and one I would do again, but I would like to have a driver next time!