Wow what an amazing and emotional weekend!
22 of our Swimventure team headed to Dorset over 8-11 June for a weekend of sea swimming, supported by the incredible Chloe McCardel, the famous Channel Queen!
In July / August three gA relay teams (J1, J2 and J3) will be undertaking a boat supported relay along the Jurassic Coast and this Swim Camp was an opportunity to clock up the sea training, ahead of the main event.
We arrived Thursday evening and met up for a team dinner. The intention was to follow this with a night swim for the experienced J3 team of swimmers. Sadly the winds were unkind and after a brave ten minutes of swimming by Daphne and Geraldine, we had to abort the session for safety reasons and we headed back to shore. The ten ladies who didn’t swim were a little disappointed but mostly relieved, as the pitch black washing machine waves didn’t look the most inviting 😂Still, we got to have a tour of Chloe’s boat, the Channel Queen, and a midnight cruise amongst the twinkling lights of Poole harbour.
We met on Sandbanks beach on Friday morning - the winds continued to be strong and the waves were very challenging.
Chloe introduced her team and they gave us a safety briefing. We had three kayakers in support, one at each end of our swim course and a floating kayaker to check on swimmers along the route. Andy, our fabulous beach marshal (and Tessa’s husband) checked our swimmers into and out of the water and kept in radio contact with the rest of the safety team. This role was then handed to Renata and Ruth after their swims.
Ruth as beach marshal
Many of our swimmers 'double-dipped' swimming for up to 90 minutes in one go, getting out of the water to warm up and then going back in for a second swim. Our session was around 4 hours in total!
The afternoon was spent enjoying a well deserved rest on the beach eating ice creams and watching the kite surfers.
Saturday morning was an early start with an 8.00am meet at Knoll Beach. We ran another kayak supported four hour swim session for the J3 relay team, more ‘double dipping’ and a great opportunity to get extra kilometres under the belt.
Fortunately the weather improved significantly and the J1 and J2 relay teams had the opportunity to practice their relay changeovers next to the Channel Queen boat. The boat was moored 300 meters from the shore and so the first thing to do was swim to the boat! We toured the boat, then completed a ten minute swim rotation in pairs, swimming back to the beach at the end of the session.
Roo jumping into the water!
Appetite primed, we moved to a cliff top pub for a sunny lunch, followed by a relaxing stroll to the lookout over Old Harry Rocks (surveying the swim route for Sunday), then back to the accommodation to relax.
Later Saturday evening seven energised swimmers returned to the beach for a twilight swim alongside the Channel Queen. After enjoying the beautiful sunset (and some insta worthy pics) they returned to shore around 11pm and some well-deserved rest!
Alarms went off at 4.30am on Sunday and we dragged our exhausted selves to the beach for a 6.00am sunrise swim. Tiredness soon departed as the usual giddy beach chatter started.
We swam 1500m to Old Harry Rocks, again supported by the safety team. The coastline was epic and the sea conditions perfect but not everyone was so keen about the seaweed rafts we needed to swim through to get to our destination!
6am swimmers heading to Old Harry Rocks
As a team our swim ability varies wildly but the common ground is everyone's willingness to try anything and to support each other - sharing fears and experiences.
During the Swim Camp our experienced swimmers swam more kilometres in a weekend than they’ve swum in a long time, including a repeat of the channel relay qualification swims (90mins + 60 mins in one session, below 16 degrees 🥶)
Newer swimmers to open water succeeded in achieving their 60 min Swimventure qualifier (easily!), multiple times!
Some of our swimmers ditched their wetsuits, whoop whoop 🙌
J1 and J2 swimmers swam next to a boat and kayak for the first time.
Plus there was, darkness, twilight and sunrise swimming 🌅
This was an amazing weekend with a special group of ladies.
We can’t wait for the main event!