Ironman distance open water swim

Once a year COLT organise a timed ironman open water swim at the lake that we use. Two years ago I recorded 59 minutes. I wasn’t super fast, so the course was definitely a few laps short. Last year it took me 1 hour and 15 minutes, maybe a little long. This year the buoys have moved slightly, so a GPS watch was given to one of the canoeists. He canoed two laps, in a straight line between each buoy. I can’t remember the exact distance that was recorded, but the distance was set at 10 laps for the full ironman swim. The Captain announced before the start that if we swam in a perfect line between each buoy we would probably be a couple of hundred metres short. No one swims in a straight line.

Listening to the Captain giving us our instructions on a nice sunny evening.


There was an extra canoeist who would record our numbers each time we swam past, although it was our responsibility to shout out our number each time. About 25 swimmers lined up for the full distance, all resplendent in yellow swimming caps with numbers on the side.

Hobbit is at the front with the small stylish beard, Andy Ley without the beard, and at the back, me with the proper beard.


And we’re off. Some swimmers took it seriously by running into the water, others had a more relaxed approach.


Usually the open water swim starts at 7 pm, but all of us doing the timed swim were set off 15 minutes early. When the gun went off I walked into the water, no running in for me. This was my longest swim since Enduroman (race report here) and I had only swam a couple of times in the last few weeks, so I wasn’t sure how I would cope. I was wearing a nose clip as loads of people had been suffering from hay-fever like symptoms due to the pollen on the top of the water. I was also using my trusty Blu-tac ear plugs.

I set off at a nice relaxed pace, but didn’t feel too great. My wetsuit was rubbing at the back a little. I still hadn’t bought more vaseline after losing mine at Enduroman. At the start of my second lap there was all of the regular swimmers to negotiate, although it made it easy to sight each buoy.

When there aren’t too many swimmers I don’t like to try and draft, but someone else did and every few strokes my feet would get a tap. I tried to ignore it, but after a while it gets annoying. Do me a favour, once or twice is OK, 20-30 times and you are a d*ck.

About halfway through I was lapped by a couple of people and then I lapped a couple of others. By the start of lap six I started to feel not too bad, and a couple of laps later I definitely started to speed up. The last lap was great and I rounded the canoe for the last time and turned for shore.

The stopwatch wouldn’t stop until you had passed the Captain sitting in his chair up the beach, so for once I did run out of the water. I recorded a time of 1 hour 13 minutes. Slower than any of my official ironman swims, but quicker than what I would do in a pool. This probably means that the distance was fairly accurate, and that most of the triathlons that I have done have had slightly short swims. Swimming is my weakest discipline, so I don’t really mind.

It was a good evening with a Q & A afterwards on Outlaw and IM Bolton, which I didn’t stay for as I was cycling home. One thing that did make me think was would I be able to complete another 40 laps on top of the 10 that I did. That’s the challenge if I do decide to have a go next year at a continuous Quin. We’ll see.

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