There are two types of swimmers in this world – the Dory’s and the Nemo’s.
The Dory’s wear wetsuits – sometimes back to front or inside out. They remain confused throughout the event and can be heard singing ‘just keep swimming, just keep swimming’ but they are for sure a cheery bunch and a delight to be around.
The Nemo’s on the other hand tend to be quite stern, glaring with a curled lip grimace at anyone who appears to be having even the slightest fun. They swim in skins (or without wet suits) and will just plough right through you if you get in their way.
Luckily, the event organisers are prepared for both. We arrived at registration where four large boards bore the names and numbers of all entrants. Just five meters away were the volunteers, handing out the numbered packs. A large poster, clearly for the benefit of all Dorys instructed us to write our number on our hands and collect our packs for we surely could not be relied upon to remember it for the 5s it would take to walk back to the desks.
Despite this incredible organisation we still managed to stand in the Wave 3 queue (the fast one reserved solely for the elite). A Nemo grunted and pointed to Wave 1 as we noddingly apologised and excitedly joined the back of the correct queue.
Forgetting we had actually bought bus tickets we persuaded Rob to drive us to the start via Costa. With a caffeine boost providing Dutch courage we made our way to the start and handed the emergency support bag to Rob who promised this year to be ready and on hand to help at any time.
The safety briefing started … ‘it’s really simple … you can’t get lost … just follow the river and you will make it to the end’. My fellow Dory’s turned to me wide eyed and nodding seriously. I had to wondered if they would indeed making to the finish without getting lost.
We entered the river and bobbed about making friends with anyone who chanced to look our way. Our plan had been to wait till the end to enter the water so we wouldn’t get too cold, but being Dorys we all forgot and charged in ahead of everyone.
Rob, who despite being a Dory is in actual fact an amazing swimmer and he set off at quite a pace.
He arrived at the first check point in 4th place and did a grab and dash as he sprinted past managing only to get a few jelly beans.
Rhodi, our Rhodesian Ridge Back joined places with the marshals and ‘pointed’ at all the swimmers ensuring they got out the water safely. She took her job very seriously … until lovely lady got the sandwiches out! 😱
Tee had never undertaken anything like this before so she was quite nervous. However, the sun was shining, wildlife surrounded us and the world was smiling. I was so proud of her. As we settled into a steady rhythm she started to relax and we focused on completing the first leg of this epic event.
I must give a shout out to our support kayaker who was fantastic. He chatted to us all the way along telling us that there was no pressure and we could take as long as we wanted provided we enjoyed ourselves. This helped tremendously.
As we swam towards the first exit, Benny, our black and white border collie leapt into the water and swam out to meet us in a triumphant show of support.
Tee couldn’t believe she had done it. She had completed the first leg of an open water swim. Her first ever. She was thrilled and glowing as she clambered out and made a beeline for the jelly beans (errr … or was that me?).
Sensibly though, she decided that it would be wiser on this occasion to walk the next two legs and try and swim the last leg.
As promised, The Robster was on hand to provide support although I couldn’t quite see the brightly coloured emergency support bag. ‘It must be in the car’ he said as we started walking. If you have read any of my previous blogs, you won’t be in the least surprised to learn that the bag was not in the car! Indeed the bag was still sitting happily at the start line where The Robster had left it.
So as The Robster, the dogs and the kids turned to walk the 1.5km back to the start we resigned ourselves to walking the 3.0km in bare feet to the next check point.
A short shuffle later, we arrived with daisies between our toes and blisters on the soles of our feet. Safely handing my charge over to The Robster, I jumped back in the water for the next 2.8km leg.
It was a great swim – the water was clean and refreshing and most of my fellow swimmers were still friendly Dorys, who even stopped to pass the time of day as they passed.
Breath, swim, swim, breath, swim, swim … I’m afraid the next hour or so was pretty uneventful. However, I can’t tell you how thrilled I was when I scrambled out at the next feed station to be greeted by my number one fan. I had no idea that he held a surprise for me behind his back. Ah me … my hearted melted … and yet again … I remembered why I take on all these crazy challenges. It’s to show those I love that anything is possible – you only have to try and to believe.
Rob, has exited the same spot a good hour before us and thankfully had taken heed of the advice to walk around the weirs instead of slithering down. Was he turning into a Nemo?
We did the same, and then a little drunk on adrenaline and dizzy with happiness we both eased into the cool Jubilee for the final leg.
The end was in sight so there was no need to rush. We effortlessly floated towards the finish where Rob stood poised with the camera to capture our triumph for all eternity … had the battery not failed at that very moment!
‘Come on very smiley lady’ said the medal givers as they proffered a welcome hand to help us out.
Still slightly out of breath but smiling fit to burst, the lovely Tee said ‘next year I am going to swim it all’.
And as for Rob, he had arrived about an hour before everyone else setting an amazing pb! Well done Rob! We are expecting you to win it next year!
So after an amazing day, sourrounded by fantastic people, we headed to The Palmers Arms in Dorney for a well earned G&T and Sunday Roast. And of course to show off our medals. We can’t wait for next year.
Thanks to the organisers, volunteers, marshals, kayakers, photogrpher, medal givers and everyone else involved. We had a brilliant day and couldn’t have done it without you. Special thanks to my family for chauffeuring us around and providing much needed support. You are all amazing. xxx