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Don’t panic! Practise what you preach

On Sunday I went to the dark side and took part in a triathlon. Apart from a sprint tri I did about seven years ago with my dad, this was my first proper triathlon. The swim took place in Ellingham Lake and the cycle and run were through the New Forest. The triathlon was a Standard-ish distance but the swim was a bit short – 1.1km. Now I consider myself a pretty experienced open water swimmer, who as well as enjoying wild swimming has taken part in plenty of open water races. I am used to busy starts and swimming in close quarters to other swimmers. But on Sunday I completely panicked! I went off too fast, I couldn’t catch my breath. After a few strokes I decided I hated it and decided that I should probably just give up as the rest of the triathlon would be equally awful. But then I remembered all the advice I have given other swimmers – don’t go off too fast, swim at your own pace, if you start to panic just calm yourself, do a couple of strokes of breaststroke, and remember you are doing this for fun. So I did. And by the third buoy I was overtaking all the people who had sprinted over me at the start. The swim was a bit too short for my liking, but I came out of the water fourth – only to be over taken by everyone on the bike leg. So the moral of the story is: don’t panic, practise what you preach, and probably do a bit more bike training than one five-mile cycle.

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Jonathan exits the water

While I was tootling round the New Forest on my bike, avoiding donkeys, in the English Channel Big Rick’s Swim Team were on the first leg of their four-way relay attempt. After 46 hours and 13 minutes the team became the first team from Europe to complete a four-way, and the third team ever to do it. Congratulations guys!

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Big Rick’s Swim Team

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Swim wild and free,

Jonathan Cowie

Editor, Outdoor Swimmer magazine

This week’s pic of the week is by Katia Vastiau of adults and children cooling off on the hottest day of the year at Queenford Lakes, Oxford.

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September Cover

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Jonathan is a year-round skins swimmer with a particular love of very cold water. He has competed in ice swimming competitions around the world. He is a qualified open water coach with a particular love of introducing new swimmers to the open water.