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Plymouth Breakwater Swim!

Well the Dart 10k swim is almost upon us and you can expect a full report once its done. But for now and for those of you missing the swimming blogs, for more boring things (?) like how to prevent and deal with various injuries!….I have a Treat for you today.

We went on holiday to Cornwall a few weeks ago and on route we stopped in Plymouth as I had entered the ‘Breakwater Swim‘ as a sort of warm up, for the Dart 10k.

At 2.2 miles, swimming from the breakwater in the middle of Plymouth sound to Tinside beach it falls somewhat short………2/3rds short actually of what is required for the Dart. But, I Liked the absurdity of a boat throwing a load of people into the sea and then saying “go on then swim back to shore πŸ€””.

The Swim start line

The swim was early morning (whilst the sharks are sleeping?)…..Ok, Ok, I know they are only Porbeagle Sharks but for a certain generation Mr Spielberg has a lot to answer for and I am pretty sure I would freak out a bit if one swam under me 🀣.

The boats wanted to be out at the breakwater by 8.30am, that meant registration at 7am, which for me meant leaving at 5am…ouch! Once I had found the wharf to register at, which was the one suggested on the information sheet but completely different to the one I initially visited on the suggestion of Google maps! I collected a flashy red swim cap, an inoffensive little wrist band and an unceremoniously permanently markered number on my hand which took 8 days to come of despite dedicated scrubbing!

Having been one of the first to register I had a good hour to kill so decided on a cup of tea and bacon roll at the cafe on the wharf. Unfortunately their seats were wet from the early morning dew so in a moment of cerebral brilliance I changed into my wetsuit. I guess it would have been ok if lots of people had done it, but there were still only a dozen people at the registration marquee, and all dressed normally so the general public seemed unsure of what to make of it 😲.

We were running late so didn’t board the boats until 8.30, big charter boats with a great open upper deck from which to view the task ahead, and to spot the sharks! As we set out to the break water I had a sudden realisation of what I had entered and a moment of doubt, no going back now though. As we continued out I relaxed more, actually it didn’t really look that far and the sea was pretty calm.

A we neared the breakwater people started muttering and pointing and waggling their thumbs about in front of their faces. Everyone was trying to establish what they were going to aim for on land to ensure they stayed on course. Smeatons tower had been the official suggestion but I remained unconvinced that this relatively small structure, whilst it may have been in the dead centre of the landing beach was not going to be that easy to see once down in the water and with what could well be partially steamed up googles. So rather than go though the effort of lifting my arm in front of me and waggling my thumb I fell back on 42 years of sea kayaking and decided to keep between the GIANT tower block to the left of the beach and the GIANT yellow bouy on the right.

At 9am, one by one we jumped off the boats and into the shark pool🦈🦈🦈. The first few people in didn’t seem to get eaten so I followed. The intention had been for a mass start once everyone was in the water but due to the late start we were told to just start swimming once you were in.

I set off, aiming ….between the GIANT tower block and the GIANT yellow bouy. I seemed to be moving quite fast but to my dismay person after person passed me and I began to worry that I was completely out if my depth with this open water swimming nonsense, that all my training that I thought I had gone quite well was all a waste of time and I might as well not bother with the Dart 10k at all.

I couldn’t realistically tell how many people were passing me as I was looking down for four strokes at a time instead of my usual three. Possibly I was looking for sharks, but mainly I was on four strokes with head down as the sea state that was now not quite so calm meant I couldn’t breath on my left so I stuck to my right. This also meant each time I looked behind me to check I wasn’t last (yet!) it was only over my right shoulder and all I could see was an ever decreasing number of people behind me, it was all very depressing. Then to top it all a man who made me look both young and slim passed meπŸ˜“. We still had at least a mile to go and I just couldn’t understand it, I didn’t think I was going particularly slow, I had worked out the halfway point on the boat trip out and had passed this in less than half an hour. In a fit of desperation not to be last I locked onto his feet (not literally) and made it my mission not to let him get away from me.

The beach was approaching fast and my watch said I had not even been swimming for an hour. I started to feel a little happier; oh well, so what if I was last, I had completed my first ever sea swim, not been eaten by sharks, and even if I was last; well 2.2 miles in under an hour was not to be sniffed at.

I hit the beach according to Gina in just under an hour. I turned to look back out to where I had swum from and to my amazement there were tens and tens and tens of swimmers, in fact a good 2/3rds of the field still out in the sound……..they had been on my left side, so I had never seen them πŸ™„!

After the swim

Outdoor Swimming Physio in Kenilworth, Leamington Spa, Warwick and Solihull

Gina and her Aunt, our four year old son , my sister and her partner were all there to greet me. I got changed and we settled on the Terrace of…………..The Terrace cafe and had tea and cake whilst watching the other swimmers come in.

As we moved on to a second cup of tea a decent sized mass of swimmers appeared from completely the wrong direction and flanked by a few safety boats. Apparently this happens every year, with some people almost ending up at Drakes Island! From what I can gather they don’t aim between the giant tower block and the giant yellow bouy.

My sister and her partner live in Plymouth; “did you see any sharks they asked, there’s been a lot out there this season 😱”

After tea and cakes my Son asked if I would take him up to the top of Smeatons Tower. When we got to the entrance, as I searched my pocket for the entrance fee, my son, who is young and who didn’t really compute that a finishing medal wasn’t a winners medal proudly proclaimed to the lady manning the door that his daddy had just won the swimming race. I opened my mouth to correct him, but, I couldn’t help noticing that the lady was looking impressed, very impressed….. We went up the tower πŸ˜‡ πŸ˜‰

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