They say that swimming 10k is the equivalent of swimming a marathon. And in some ways that is true. The Dart 10k was the longest swim I have ever completed. But it was also one of the most beautiful.
The Dart 10k is an epic swim which happens in Devon. It follows the ebbs and flows of the river Dart. The swim starts in the town of Totnes, and finishes on a rugged beach in Dittisham.
I was running late for my swim, oh no! I had missed my swim safety briefing, and I had forgot my timing chip and had to run back to the van to get my rucksack to find it! I rummaged around my rucksack, found my chip and strapped it to my ankle. I ran to the swim start just in time.
We gathered at the water’s edge with the sun beaming down. It was a crisp, sunny morning, and I was grinning. I was surrounded by hundreds of swimmers, all gathered by the water’s edge in their wetsuits, ready to go. I was already sweating in my wetsuit. The lady next to me said: “Good luck, fellow swimmer!” and patted me on the shoulder and we both giggled.
I lowered myself into the river, clenched my jaw and shivered. The icy water creeped up my wetsuit. But once I started swimming, I warmed up within minutes. After a while I felt snug.
As I swam, I looked up at the trees and the green valleys and hills. Art sculptures of mermaids were hanging off the tree branches and keeping me company on the journey. A family of 3 kayakers to my left and the river bank to my right. Paddle boarders glided along and shouted at me to “keep in the middle!”.
I felt comfortable and at peace. I pulled through the water, took in the scenery and thought about my friends that I had came with and the friends I had made. I thought about the amazing food at last night’s BBQ, and how Boris and Lorraine had helped to smother ‘glide’ on my neck earlier to prevent the chafing.
The floating feeding station came up fast. I knew I had made it to 6k. It was a giant floating plastic island with people feeding us. I swam up the station, grabbed onto the side and they handed me jelly babies to nibble and a bottle of lucazade. I felt like a bobbing sea lion, with jelly babies being dropped into my mouth. I continued on my swim, brimming with excitement and happy I had some sugar.
Then came the Leg cramps. A cramp emerged in my left calf muscle, followed by a cramp in my right calf. My toes felt painful and stiff. It was like having to swim with 2 straight poles as legs. I decided to carry on swimming despite the agonising pain. I was becoming tired and cold. The water was stripping my body of its heat.
My wetsuit sliced into my neck, making my neck bleed. It rubbed and rubbed, making the wound grow deeper. I winced with the pain. I knew that my skin would be red and raw.
For 20 minutes I was swimming completely on my own, without any fellow swimmers or kayakers for company. I wondered if I got lost or strayed off course. I panicked – where is everyone? Then finally I saw a flash of an arm in the distance and realised it was a swimmer! Yay, I wasn’t lost after all.
The last 2k was the hardest part. The river widened and the water became choppy. Boats bobbed on the surface. The water tasted increasingly more salty so I knew I was approaching the sea – not long to go! I decided to dig deep and pick up some speed. I overtook a few red hatted swimmers!
Before I knew it, I saw hundreds of people huddled on a beach in the distance. I started sprinting towards the finish. Children were cheering and yelling. I swam towards the beach and stumbled over the sharp rocks, nearly cutting my feet open. Everyone was clapping and cheering. I made it! What a journey. It was all over so fast and I didn’t want it to end. I was beaming and dizzy. I was so dizzy I could hardly stand.
One of the lady swimmers told me that I was one of the first ladies out of the water. I was so pleased. I had completed the swim in just over 2 hours and I couldn’t be happier.
It was not a race, it was a journey of discovery. I loved the wild scenery and the choppy water. I loved the support and cheering, and the positivity from the swimmers. I was so pleased to see my friends after their swim, all laughing and hugging and relieved to have made it. It was a weekend of lovely people and fabulous company.
Sharing the experience with good friends from the Serpentine Swimming Club. We all did so well.