Exmoor Open Water Swim has become one of the most popular swims in the South West. Taking place on the edge of Exmoor, in Wimbleball Lake, it attracts top athletes, recreational swimmers and a massive amount of “newbies’’ to open water swimming. There were 920 participants, the most that have ever participated, who enjoyed the relatively warm air and water temperature. They were able to choose between the Elite 6km, the 4km, 2km and 1km distance.
With social distancing measures in place again this year, the affair took on a wonderfully relaxed atmosphere. A rolling start meant no crushes at the beginning and a dead zone after each lap meant the swimmers could relax a bit and take on fluids without stress. Everyone received a time and a placing and a finishers medal (which doubles up as a magnetic bottle opener), and skins swimmers had their own categories. This number has grown considerably to 150, due in part to the increased number of people using cold water swimming as a therapy to combat anxiety and depression. As there was no prize giving again, the prizes were distributed randomly throughout the field, meaning that many people who have never had the joy of winning, suddenly found themselves with a prize!
The 6km Elite race was won by Bristol Channel Swimmer and previous winner of the Exmoor Swim, Neil Gilson. ‘It was a great day, and quite relaxing not to actually compete!’ The Women’s 6km was won by skins swimmer Sian Philips, a seasoned swimmer and a previous winner at the Exmoor – an amazing achievement. Gold for the 4km was snatched by Alistair Maclean from 2nd place youth Verner Krynauw. The 1st woman in the 4km was an under 16: Leni Skelin, with Ella Pile taking Silver 2 minutes behind. Another young participant took gold for the 2km: Charles Simpson, narrowly beating overall 2nd place for the 2km: Grace Nolan who was first woman across the line, so happily got a gold medal as well as the silver!! It’s the second year that Exmoor Open Water has put on the 1km event, which attracted almost 200 participants, many of whom are new to the sport. Yet another skin was first across the line: Peter Welsh, and first woman was Under 16 Sara Sari. Notable was up and coming Edie Springett and Kitty Johnson who came 5th and 6th in their U16 age group both aged 10!
Tania Genevieve Mugleston (above) says: “This photo totally sums up how I felt, achieving my first ever swimming event – 1km at that! Thanks for a wonderful encouraging commentary at the event that emphasized personal goals and supporting one another. What a well organized and chilled event.”
Director Michael Morris said: “It’s so great to be able to deliver a safe event, during these difficult times – you can see how much people have enjoyed coming here today by the laughter and the smiles on their faces.”
2022 entries: www.exmoorswim.co.uk
Images: HowaboutDave Photography