Mark Davis, the organiser, says, “we’re delighted with the feedback from the testing we’ve just done. We’ve tested for e.coli, Enterococci, pH and blue-green algae. The pH is 8.5 and counts for the others are all low. It’s almost good enough to drink.”
After cancellations and disruption in 2011 and 2012 - due first to blue green algae and then to stormy weather - this year’s Great North Swim, which took place from 14 to 16 June, went ahead without a hitch.
That’s not to say conditions were easy. Rain fell on both Friday and Saturday. This wouldn’t have bothered the swimmers too much if it hadn’t been accompanied by strong winds, which created a choppy surface. One swimmer said, “it was like swimming in the sea.” On Saturday in particular more than 100 of swimmers needed assistance from the life guards and safety crew.
“A lot of the people we helped were swimming in open water for the first time and weren’t prepared for how rough it was,” said one of the lifeguards, who added she’d also had to help people who were wearing brand new wetsuits.
Many swimmers reported that their times were slower than they’d hoped or expected.
One of the main attractions of the Great Swim series though is that it really is an event for all swimmers from elites who smashed through the mile in around 17 minutes to swimmers who needed nearly 2 hours 30 minutes to complete the same distance. Something like 10,000 swimmers took part in total.
In the elite races Tom Allen (pictured, top left) finished first from the men after a closely fought battle with Chad Ho from South Africa (4th), Jan Posmourny from Czech Republic (3rd) and Christian Reichert from Germany (2nd). Alex Studzinski from Germany rounded out the top five, with all finishing within five seconds of each other and the lead changing hands several times during the race.
Christine Jennings from the US grabbed the lead early in the women’s race and extended it throughout to finish seven seconds ahead of Ellena Jones, with Lucy Charles, Philippa Shuttleworth and Charlotte Hill, all from the UK, following closely behind.
Windermere is a fantastic, beautiful location to swim and the Great North Swim a flagship event for open water swimming and well worth putting on your calendar for next year. Many, perhaps the majority, were taking part in their first ever open water race. Other, more experienced, swimmers entered races on all three days of the event (e.g. 5km, 2 miles and 1 mile) and made a swimming weekend out of it.
A group of intrepid open water swimmers has taken on the challenge of swimming the River Trent, one of the UK’s major rivers, from its source to Trent Falls where it joins the River Ouse. The total length is just short of 300km.
The group are tackling the river in stages of between four and 10km throughout the summer of 2013 (see list of dates and locations below).
Sarah Lewis, the organiser, says, “we have just completed the fifth leg of the Trent Challenge. To date it has been the most amazing experience and numbers [of swimmers] are growing for each swim. The challenge started on 19 May 2013 at the Essex Bridge, Shugbrough Hall. We hope to finish one way or another at the Humber Estuary. It all started as a dream one day and now it is reality.”
If you’d like to join the Trent Challenge swimmers for any part of their challenge, please contact Sarah on
Regular H2Open contributor Paul Newsome has just won the 2013 running of the prestigious Manhattan Island Marathon Swim (MIMS), a full 28.5 mile anti-clockwise circumnavigation of the island of Manhattan.
Newsome, who writes our Swim Plus features, is the founder and head coach of Swim Smooth. He fits his training around a heavy coaching and writing schedule, and his family commitments (he has two young children).
Speaking after the race, Newsome said, “To win MIMS is a brilliant feeling. I am a competitive guy at heart and love the fact that this one is a race, all of us battling exactly the same conditions, whatever they might be. On the day those conditions (a lot colder than normal and tough currents) proved to play in my favour and psychologically I tried to tap into that to keep me going.”
Two years ago Newsome swam the English Channel on a rough windy day. How did MIMS compare?
“It was different,” he says. “It was MIMS's coldest year on record by some margin and I never thought I'd be saying the cold would favour me, but it appears that it does. There might have been faster swimmers (on paper) in the field on Saturday but for whatever reason the effort that I put in on the day, with the stroke that I have, with my fabulous team and in the conditions I was presented with all culminated in the win, so consequently I'm very pleased about that.”
Newsome heaps praise on his team many times over.
“I had a brilliant team: Adam (team leader), Amanda (who flew over from Australia to be my paddler), Alex (paddler provided by MIMS), Evan Morrison (who we flew over from California to help with logistics and who came third in 2011 in this event), Barrie (boat driver provided by MIMS), and Hannah (observer provided by MIMS). I class this as having the biggest profound effect. They were brilliant to a tee.”
His current fitness and form also obviously had something to do with the performance. In training he’s been averaging around 45-55km per week and recently set a life-time best for a 20km swim. “Even so,” he says, “never in my wildest dreams did I think I could win it.”
Newsome starts to break away at the front of the field
Encouraging people to take part in the Ecover Blue Mile in her hometown Plymouth, Sharron Davies hopes more people will take up water sports.
The Olympic silver medalist and Commonwealth double gold medalist is backing the event, aimed at raising funds and awareness for the Marine Conservation Society (MCS), of which she is a patron.
"Whether it's wild swimming or doing a length of your local pool, people of all ages and levels of fitness and ability can really immerse themselves in all types of watery activities," she said.
The event involves individuals taking to water in a series of events – swimming, kayaking and stand-up and paddling, on 14-15 September.
Aqua Sphere signed up to the event as official swim kit partner earlier this year, and will be donating swim caps to all swimmers as well as a selection of prizes including wetsuits.
Sharron learned to swim at the age of six, and was training seriously two years later. In the 1993 New Year Honours, she was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) ‘for services to swimming’, and is now a BBC commentator.
Blue Mile organiser Conrad Humphreys said: "Sharron's support is brilliant news and will hopefully inspire more people to join us in making a splash for the Marine Conservation Society. We want people to get actively involved with the blue environment.”