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My Swim Story – Jo Lockhart

If you’re going to do it, do it with style. Jo Lockhart waited until she was on the world stage for her first DNF

One of the things that

I love about open

water swimming is the

camaraderie. As I walked

out of arrivals in Budapest on my way

to the World Masters Championships,

someone asked me if I was from

Cambridge – she had seen me in Jesus

Green Lido. We chatted and realised we

were swimming in the same age group

in the 3km open water race in Lake


The following morning, my daughter

Alex and I were up early to catch

the free train to Balatonfüred. On

arrival we had a practice swim in Lake

Balaton. The water was calm and all

was looking good for Friday.

My race was the last wave of the day. The weather was glorious but as the

day progressed the wind started to get

up. News started to filter through that

there were metre-high waves on the

course! After the safety briefing we had

a 5-minute warm up. I was the first

to jump in, eager to get going, but it

quickly became obvious that this was

not going to be a normal swim. The

water was very choppy and holding

on to the pontoon before the start was

exhausting. I wished I hadn’t been so

quick to get in.

The three whistles sounded and

there was no turning back. As the start

gun fired, we all set off. Before too long

there were just three of us at the rear.

I knew if I kept with them, I would be

okay. The swimmer behind gave up

within the first 1,000m so I was then

last. But that didn’t matter because I

was swimming at the Worlds!

Swimming away from the shore, the

waves got larger and front crawl turned

to breaststroke. I had already taken

on a great deal of lake water

and was retching violently.

I reached the first buoy at

1,200m and turned to swim

across the waves. All I could

think about was another 500m

and I would be turning for home.

One further intake of water was too

much and I vomited it back up.

As I was nearing the second buoy,

I could hear the kayaker next to me

shouting. That’s it, I thought, they are

stopping me because I wasn’t going

to make the cut-off. I had no idea

how long I had been swimming for. I

stopped and shouted out, “What?” She

indicated that it was not at me but to

the boat. She then repeated herself to

another boat, but this time she stopped

paddling. The next thing I knew was

that the rear of the kayak swung round

on the waves and hit me hard on the


Tales of woe

But I was determined to finish. I finally reached the buoy and turned

for home. The waves by now were so

high that I could not see the next buoy.

I was eventually pointed in the right

direction. Each time I stopped to sight, the kayaker asked me if I had finished.

I was not giving up! Eventually, after

about another 400m, I was exhausted, I

couldn’t see the finish line and I started

to panic. With a very heavy heart, I put

my hand up signalling the end of my

World Championship swim.

Then followed two boat journeys,

a trip in a wheelchair and 30 minutes

with the medics. Despite assuring them

I was fine, protocol had to be followed

and I eventually made it out to find an

extremely concerned Alex.

The train journey back to Budapest

was full of tales of woe and I was

pleased to hear that I was not the only

one who hadn’t finished. My first ever

DNF and it had to be at the Worlds.

But watch out Lake Balaton, you will

not get the better of me and I will be

back to conquer you!

What’s your Swim Story? Email: editor@outdoorswimmer.com

Jo Lockhart Image 2

Jo in front of Lake Balaton

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