The One Mile Open Water Swimming Series is a new concept started by the guys from Big Bay events. Derrick Fraser and his team host a number of cold Open Water Swims in Blouberg. They have introduced the One Mile cold open water swim series to run in conjunction with their current swims, which are generally long and challenging, to offer something for the individuals who would like something a little shorter and more manageable in the Cold Atlantic Ocean. The cold water often intimidates swimmers and this great initiative offers a distance that is far enough to test one’s ability, but short enough to be enjoyable. The potential to suffer from hypothermia is also reduced, and is not as drastic on the swimmers as what they are in the longer events.
This first event in the series was run alongside the 10.3km Lighthouse swim, from Milnerton Lighthouse to Big Bay, Blouberg. I would under normal circumstances have swum the Lighthouse Swim but with it being only 3 weeks before World Masters Swimming Championships in Italy, I decided to forgo the temptation and rather swim the shorter race. The reason being that swimming a 10km race in 12°C water would cause major muscle fatigue and I couldn’t afford that so close to World Champs.
I joined my team mate from Vineyard Swimming Club, Duncan Bonney, on the start line for the One Mile Open Water Swim Race. As we were lining up on the beach, seconds before the start, my goggle strap pulled loose. I had sprayed anti-fog solution into them, which had gotten onto the strap. Duncan could not help but laugh at me as I panicked trying to get them on in time for the start. I did not quite manage to fix them but started the race nevertheless. We waded out into the waves and dolphin-dived through the swell. Once we were beyond the breakers I caught up to Duncan and Jessica Ashley-Cooper who were leading the way. I rolled onto my back to adjust my goggles and clear the water that had gathered in them. I could see Duncan smiling as he gained a slight lead on me.
I soon got the goggles sorted out and was on my way again, catching and passing Duncan, moving into the lead. I was out to swim as fast as I could, so put the hammer down from that point onwards. We were swimming two clockwise loops of the course before heading back to shore through the waves. After the first lap I had opened up a small gap and through lap 2 started catching swimmers still on lap one. As I moved through the back markers I lost sight of Duncan but carried on as hard as I could.
I soon rounded the last buoy and made my way back towards the beach. Within the space of fifteen minutes that we were swimming the mist came up quite dramatically, as once heading back towards land, we could not see the beach. I followed the swell towards the coastline and caught a nice wave, which I body surfed the entire way to the beach. I won in 16m46s, Duncan finished second in 17m54s and Jessica Ashley-Cooper was 3rd in 18m27s.
There were many positive comments made by all who took part. I look forward to the next race in the series, later this year, as Vineyard Swimming Club will play host. The Vineyard Spring Relay looks to be a great event for open water swimmers of all levels. The full details are not yet available, but I will keep you posted as soon as they are announced.