Here’s a great account of the swim by my new guest blogger Martin:
It’s a 10 mile (16km) drive by road but “only” a mile and three quarters (2.8km) by water from Ashfield to Tayvallich. Melanie, Stuart and I reckoned that we’d drawn the long straw as Ewan drove us round through a heavy downpour: we could get a blast of heat before stepping out into the rain at the Ashfield jetty.
David had brought the other swimmers across in the support RIB. The kayakers had also congregated around the jetty ready for John’s briefing … then … with no starting pistol … they were … offfffff.
After a few short stints of back crawl to warm up, I got into my stroke with good regular long breaths. The “sea state” was perfect: flat calm with a vista of lush green woodland on either side, which gradually shifted to broad stretches of water as we crossed into Loch Sween… there were glimpses at each breath of the open sea to the south and the Fairy Isles and then Caol Scotnish to the north. The slow unfolding of the panorama was enhanced by clearing skies as the early rain turned to white cloud and then blue sky and sunshine. Looking downwards you could see the depths of the water by the layers of (benign) purple jellyfish. Stuart reckons he almost swallowed one at one point as it brushed the side of his lips.
With the ebbing tide running at a few knots, Will noted from his kayak that the swimming course took a bit of an arc. The current wasn’t noticeable in the water … the main concern was to keep sight of the Tayvallich houses, and then the red roof of the cafe in the final stretches: hot soup and a sandwich beckoning!
John came in a healthy first place (“now, it’s not a race, but remember that there are some competitive swimmers here today”). I must say that I was quite pleased with my second place. I certainly would have been thwarted in that, though, if Stuart hadn’t been slowed down by a damaged ligament that he sustained while running last week.
Lottie, Melanie and Steve were next in, followed hot on their heels by Rebecca.
Fraser covered most of the distance in his short-sleeved wetsuit, but since he was doing back stroke he had to be kept right every now and again by kayakers: at one point he was heading down to Castle Sween, then back towards Ashfield, but he came in through the bay to applause at the jetty.
And then Jan hauled himself out onto the jetty with his flippers, looking like Jacques Cousteau.
Many thanks to David for the RIB cover and to Chris, Diana, Harry, Libby and Will for the kayak cover. To Rosie and co for the much appreciated soup and sandwich afterwards. To Ewan for the driving and the pics. And to John for organising the whole event.
(And many thanks to Martin!)