Features,  FEATURES

Seeking out the more challenging open water swims

I have been around swimming for a long time but sadly did not compete as a young lad. I have however been involved as a teacher and then as a coach at Cheltenham. I am not the fastest swimmer, that’s for sure, but I love open water and have been competing in open water events for 20 plus years.

In the old days wetsuits were for diving or water-skiing or surfing, but not for swimming – and as you may well know in the BLDSA they are not allowed! Back when I started the BLDSA were the only people organising swims and rules were rules, so I don’t use wetsuits (unless the event makes them compulsory) and I love the contact of the water on my skin and braving the cold.
In the last three years my interest has been re-fuelled with the advent of numerous events and the access H2Open Magazine gives to all the events. I wait for my copy of the mag each time and find it a very involving and informative read.
Two years ago I completed my first 10K swim and like to hunt out the more challenging swims. I swam ‘Bridge to Bridge’ last year along with the 10km Palamos swim in the ‘Oceanman’ series in Spain. This year is another challenging year as I have been roped into a channel relay with two other friends from Gloucester Masters (Simon Griffiths, H2Open founder knows the one lad – Steve Taylor)* and the other is Angela Wadley. We will swim in September and go by the team name of “Dudes and Boobs”.  Angela is at the helm and is bossing myself and Steve to success, we hope.
Winning the trip to BEST Fest** was a big surprise: I certainly wasn’t expecting to be in Mallorca twice in two months! I will be going to the BEST Swim Centre in April with the Gloucester Masters on a training camp so it will be nice to check out the venue for the swims beforehand, orientate myself and get to know some of the BEST staff.
My hope for BEST Fest event is that I’ve out-lived the competition so that there will not be that many in my age group! Joking aside, it’s nice to see that I slot nicely into the 61+ category, making me a youngster in that age group. However, I know there are some very fast older swimmers out there, so my back up plan is to swim the 10k Colonia Classic 3 and get double points! I’m really looking forward to the swims as anything over 15 degrees is tropical for me. I’m just hoping to steer clear of any jellies, though I was pleased to hear that last year there were almost none!
*Note from Simon: Steve and I swam together at Cheltenham Swimming and Water Polo Club in the 1970s!
**BEST Fest features eight open water swims in seven days in Mallorca. Early bird entry prices are available until 31 January 2016. Find out more.

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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.