The RLSS Poole Lifeguard Brownsea Island swim is the stuff of openwater swimming legend. Places get snapped up very quickly for the 6.5k round island swim* (in less than an hour I think), so it’s a privilege to be able to take part.
Add to that, last year injury meant I had very reluctantly given up my place. To say I was psyched to be at the start line in 2015 was a bit of an understatement.
As usual I was part of a team of elite endurance athletes, fully focused on being first in our own categories…
After registration at Sandbanks swimmers get the boat over to Brownsea Island, which is owned by the National Trust and is, as you would anticipate, really beautiful. It’s also where the Scout Movement was founded and there are red squirrels and there’s a castle. It’s pretty cool.
As is the organisation of this swim – it does actually run like clockwork – truly impressive.
Clothes off, cossies and sunscreen on, we headed down to the beach and were ready for the start. The race briefing included the detail that the water temperature was 15.6 degrees.
Although I have swum non-wetsuit all year, knowing I would be spending at least 2 hours swimming, that little nugget of information did provide a little shot of adrenalin. Knowing that my mate Barbara was doing this as her Channel Relay qualifier also added a bit of perspective…
Thankfully as an elite endurance athlete I knew exactly what to do. I set my brain and body setting to “tropical” and for the first half of the swim enjoyed a soundtrack of Wham! Club Tropicana – hanging out with George, Andrew, Pepsi and Shirley worked a treat – so tropical – not a chill in sight!
And what a beautiful swim! That’s the thing. I think this swim really poses a dilemma – it is so lovely, it seems a shame to have your head down all the time trying to beat the clock.
I stopped a few times to float and take in my surroundings. And when my head was down, it was really quite wonderful too. I could see crabs scurrying across the sea bed, little fish darting around and at one point found myself swimming over an underwater forest – a real adventure!
Add to that it all got rather choppy on the second half of the swim – the swimming equivalent of skiing a mogul field – really exciting!
Brownsea castle seemed so far away yet suddenly the finish buoys arrived and we were transitioned expertly through the funnel (complete with pre photo sea beard check – thanks Ali!) and onto the beach collect our bags and enjoy some delicious soup.
I think this pic of my friend Fiona sums up what a joy it was …
Thank you to the organisers and volunteers for a really special day!
芙蓉出水 Out of the Water Lotus Rises. And we all did.
*There’s also the option to swim halfway
At A Lotus Rises we’re celebrating women in open water, from your first splash, through to wild swims and marathon swimming.