A calendar clash saw two of the most popular open water swimming events in the UK taking place on the same weekend this year. The Dart 10k, organised by the Outdoor Swimming Society, ran over two days on 5 and 6 September while Chillswim’s Coniston end-to-end was on the Saturday. In theory therefore it would have been possible to do both, but we don’t know yet of anyone who did.
Fortunately the clash – despite (or perhaps because of) coinciding with the traditional end of the summer holidays – didn’t prevent both events reaching capacity and selling out months in advance. Both also enjoyed fantastic weather conditions although some found the 13.5 degree water temperature in the Dart a little on the cool side. Those further north in Coniston had warmer water of around 17 degrees.
On paper the Dart 10k is the longer event but as it’s current assisted the fastest swimmers were able to finish in around 1:45, about 15 minutes quicker than the first swimmers completing the 5.25 mile length of Coniston.
Both events offer challenging swims in scenic locations with the emphasis for many on completion and taking part rather than competition. Consequently, the OSS does not publish a ranking with swimmers’ times. Coniston however offers prizes for those of a more competitive nature and is one of the few events in the UK to make the distinction between wetsuit and non-wetsuit swimmers. This year the first swimmer home was Sophie Casson, who just failed to break the two-hour mark in 2:00:20. Last year’s winner, Dion Harrison, finished in sixth place despite completing relatively little training. The fastest non-wetsuit swimmer was Claire Thorn in 2:22:16.
The weekend was in fact one of the busiest of the year with a host of other events taking place in the UK and around the world including the Bray Lake Swim Challenge, Scilly Swim Challenge, Create Swim Race Series (Bristol), Macmillan Lido Challenge Letchworth, Bala Standard Charity Swim, Lock-to-Lock (Eynsham), Oceanswim Abersoch, Fellfoot Sportive, Loch Ard Swim Festival (Vigour Events), BLDSA St Mary’s Loch, SASA West Champs and the Forth of Firth Swim. In Ireland there was the Glendalough National Park Swim and the Tracie Lawlor Memorial Cup Swim while further afield was Swim Trailmar (Gerona, Spain), the 46th Waikiki Roughwater (Honolulu), Liberty to Freedom (New York) and the Amsterdam City Swim.