Sunday, 28 June 2009

The joy of open water swimming!

Not having a swim background puts me at at disadvantage at the beginning of every race. At school I was far too interested in too many other sports to worry about swimming....

I'm not a natural swimmer, but one attribute I do have is the ability and propensity to train hard and put myself on the limit. Essentially I'm resigned to the fact there is only so far that technical coaching can take me unless I was to start all over again!! I try to make up for this by making myself strong, using both paddles and a band in my sessions.

Now that the summer has arrived it brings with it the opportunity to swim open water and this much more fun!!

There are three lakes that are close enough to London and enable triathletes or just swimmers the opportunity to swim open water. They are dependent on seasonal temperatures and normally open May through to September. In the early season they're still a little cold, but normally by July you'd be comfortable swimming without a wetsuit.

My favourites are both Liquid Leisure and The Princes Club. They're are both Water ski lakes but they open up the whole lake for a limited time for athletes....Brilliant!!

So which is the best?? as they both have their own merits.

Firstly Liquid Leisure, I've been swimming here for the last three years, its located out at Dachet and its Superbly managed by Mike Trees and his team. They were the pioneers in turning open water swimming into a safe, fun and secure experience. He was also the first to offer athletes the opportunity to try before they buy his full range of 2XU wetsuits. Although this sounds such a simple thing, Mike was the first to do it. There are a number of different distance loops and the main 800m loop can be extended out to add a little more distance, but most athletes will swim repetitions of the 800m. There's a great atmosphere created by the buzz of athletes. A coffee shop and breakfast shack provide a good post training snack.... bacon sandwich or a Latte?

I've only just started swimming at Princes, but at the moment I'd say it was my favourite. Its in Bedfont, a much shorter drive from my house in Kingston. They open from 6-9am at the weekends and on Monday evenings from 5-8pm. The loop is 1500m, a 750m out and back. I've heard in the past that's it been a little weedy, but not this year as the lake was nice and clear today. The Princes Club is a very established water ski club and has all the amenities associated with this. There's a coffee shop, restaurant and even a bar. The manager, Glen walker, who runs the lake is always on hand and creates a warm friendly atmosphere taking time to chat and offer advice. Incidentally Glen runs Sippery fish swim school and is a Hawaii Ironman finisher!!

Both offer a secure monitoring system counting athletes in and out, but Princes Log all your details online when you arrive the first time, making registration quicker on your second visit.

The going rate is a £5 at each, which to be fair on a beautiful day like today, was money well spent.....

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