It was the British Gas Great Salford Swim on Sunday (15th May) so we sent along our editor to make sure he practices what he preaches. He finished a creditable 14th in a time of 21.15 so we thought that wasn’t too bad.
Despite the rain, neither swimmers nor their supporters seemed to be put off. Wave after wave of swimmers set of to tackle the one mile swim in the 14 degree water of Salford Docks, while the crowds cheered them on whether they were racing at the front or swimming breast stroke at the back and enjoying the scenery.
Nor did the weather keep the stars away. Australia’s Ian Thorpe was on hand to start the sub-30 minute wave and offered the following last minute advice: “relax”. Maybe he was being paid per word and the budget didn’t run to any more.
Thorpie didn’t get in the water (as far as we know) but plenty of other elite swimmers did. One of the attractions of the day was to see how the rest of us compared to world champion marathon swimmers such as Thomas Lurz, who won the men’s elite race, and Keri-anne Payne who led the women’s field. Needless to say, the elites were so far ahead you would have thought they had swum a shortened version of the course if we hadn’t seen them do exactly the same as the rest of us.
The Great Swim Series offers a sort of mass production version of open water swimming. Swimmers are checked into enclosed pens, told how to warm up and when to plunge into the acclimatisation pool. The organisation can’t really be faulted. The course was clearly marked out and there were plenty of rescue craft on the water. We would definitely recommend the series to both new swimmers and those wanting to clock up a fast time for a mile swim.
However, if you prefer your open water swimming to be a little wilder, you might want to look elsewhere, such as Endurancelife’s Wild Swim Series.