VIew of the ocean at Southend-on-seaBack on July 22nd I went down to Southend-on-sea (about an hour’s drive from London) for the annual Great Pier Swim, this is a 3.3km swim between two piers.

I should mention at this point, that I didn’t actually do the Southend-on-sea swim, to which you may be thinking “she is always telling us how much she swims, so why didn’t she do it” and you’d have a good point.  I did try to do the swim, I spoke to the organisers about 10 days before as I was having a stand there selling LOLLs, but entries had closed.  To be honest it would have been a push for me.  It’s one thing to swim 1km a day in clear clean water, it’s another to swim in the ocean in the UK…

You can’t really see from the photo’s but it wasn’t a bright, warm sunny day at the beach, it was grey, and the water was brown and I was very thankful on arriving that I wasn’t swimming!  There was a strong wind and the balmy British Summer temperature of 17 degrees, which felt like 10 in the wind.

swimmer at Southend-on-seaIt was the first time that I’d got up close and personal at a UK ocean swim.  There were about 200 swimmers, most in wetsuits as they swam in the choppy ocean and they raised just over £15,000 for the local hospice.  The consensus from the swimmers was that it was a choppy swim, sighting (seeing the buoys for direction) was hard and there was a current that pulled them off course.

The organisers told me that last year they had to pull swimmers out due to mild hyperthermia – they had been in the water 2.5 hours and even with a wetsuit on it was too much… That was another reason why I was pretty glad I didn’t swim.

For the Southend-on-sea swim this year the water temperature was 17, the same as last year, but the swimmers were a lot faster. The first guy was done in just over 45 minutes – you can see him here coming through the finish.  The last swimmer was done in 1hour 45 and she breaststroked the whole way!  If I had done it I can tell you that I’d have been at the back with the breaststroker….

I totally admire all these UK swimmers, they weren’t swimming in the lovely clear water that we are used to over here in Australia, it was cold both in and out of the water and it was choppy.  I was saying to my friend who came to help that I wasn’t sure I’d be an ocean swimmer if I lived in the UK…..  Would you?


p.s.  I wore practically every LOLL that day it was so chilly!!!

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