With the forecast spitting out high winds and rain, it was never going to be a walk in the park for this year’s participants of the Dartmoor Open Water Swim at Roadford Lake on 16 June 2019. The organisers were forced to cut distances by half, which although disappointing still allowed the more than 350 swimmers to take to the water.
The 4km race saw Neil Gilson from Ilfracombe take an early lead, but cramp led to him stopping at the halfway stage to take on board a drink and some jelly babies, allowing Joe Osborne from Exeter and lead woman Francesca Haywood (St Buryan, Cornwall) to catch up. Gilson turned up the gas on the second lap and started to pull away once more, to take a comfortable lead over Osborne of 1min 27 seconds. Hawyard finished 3rd overall, and was first female across the line.
Non-wetsuit swimmers raced in a separate category. In first place, and now currently hot favourite to take the Ice King of the Moors if he wins Exmoor Open Water Swim in September, was Alan Edmondson, beating Paul Smith by only 43 seconds.
The Dartmoor Open Water Swim attracted swimmers from age 12 to 72 with many of the youngsters doing well in the 1km race. The top 8 places all went to swimmers under the age of 16.
The organisers strive to minimise the environmental impact of the swim. Mike Morris, Event Director, says that working with sponsors, The Pickwell Foundation, they have developed a tool kit for event organisers to make events more environmentally responsible and aimed to completely eliminate single use plastics from their own events.
Entries are still open for the Dartmoor Swim’s sister event, the Exmoor Open Water Swim on 29 September.
Image credit: Howaboutdave photography