Scilly Swim Challenge
by Ian Glover
It's that time of the year again where long Open Water Swimming events become almost pleasurable.
This time it was the Scilly Swim Challenge - 6 swims and 6 walks around the Isles Of Scilly Saturday 5th September.
The idea is you swim from Island to Island and walk across each Island to commence the next swim . Total of 10 miles of swimming and 6 miles of walking ( and eating loads of cakes ! ). Well that was the plan anyway.
The first swim was from St Mary's to St Martin's. Nice early start at 7am and a nice little warm up of 1.8miles. No dramas but a little bit of a shock to find the water was 14c . I had a wet suit but of the 141 people that started around 35 did not truly amazing. Upon striking land a nice cup of tea and the first of many pieces of locally made cake - yes I think I like this Open Water Lark !
Next swim 2.2 miles from St Martins to the beautiful Island of Tresco. Here more cake but with the additional bonus of the best Cornish pasty I have ever tasted all set up in the local Cricket Pavilion . The whole of the Island seemed to be helping out - lovely friendly people.
After lunch ( I heard one guy comment he had never eaten so much on an endurance event- true but great idea ).
The next two swims, all the time supported by what seemed like an armada of canoes and speed boats, were the shortest- a swim of 0.5 mile and then one of 1 mile to the Island of Bryher and then Samson. This was where I had the most bizarre tea and cake sitting in a Church in my wet suit !
All of the swims so far had been with the relative protection of the Islands which are in a circle. However the next swim was the longest and most exposed 3.5 miles from Samson to St Agnes. By this stage the wind had picked up a little and the tides on this section are tricky at the best of times apparently. We were split into three ' pods ' and off we went.
I love swimming and I love a challenge but this was on the edge. Swell coming from the West my right wind from the left and as we got closer to St Agnes a tide that was pushing us back. The sea went from relatively OK to a choppy mess. Trying to get any sought of rhythm was pretty much impossible. Of the 140 who started this section around half completed.
Definitely the toughest swim in my mini Open Water Swim career. When I eventually swum to the key at St Agnes I could not stop shivering - weird as felt fine swimming.
We were meant to then finish the day with the final mile but due to the time this section took and the deteriorating conditions this was postponed until the following morning which we all completed in bright sunshine.
An amazing experience. If you like swimming, lovely scenery , very friendly people and of course cake I would thoroughly recommend.
Ian and fellow swimmers
Ian and Mat Parker