I just got back from a few days in the UK with my coach, Justin Daerr. The trip was a bit of a whirlwind, with stops in London, Henley-on-Thames (with a swim event), and a quick trip down to Dover for some English Channel recon. It was the best of British swimming locales.
Sticking primarily to public transit, I think we set a new record for number of rides: The tally included 4 flights, 2 plane trains in the Atlanta airport, 4 bus rides, 12 rides in the London Underground, 9 train rides, 1 ride on the Thames Clipper boat, 7 rides on the Docklands Light Rail, 2 ferry rides across the Channel, and 1 Uber ride! I think I’m worn out more from the public transit than from the swimming.
The trip was primarily for the purpose of swimming in Henley Swim’s Thames Marathon Swim, but we tacked on the trip to Dover so that I could introduce Justin to the Channel swimming scene. We had a terrific time.
Here are some photos from the trip….
Next up for me….I’ll be returning to the UK in 3 weeks for a 10.5-mile swim at Lake Windermere in the Lake District. I’m looking forward to the trip and my longest nonstop swim yet.
Our home for a couple days in London was the Canary Riverside Plaza Hotel. I’ve stayed here a couple times, in large part because of the awesome swimming pool alongside the Thames with panoramic views of London.
We had a chance on 2 successive mornings to swim at the Serpentine in Hyde Park, the site of the Olympic triathlon and 10-km open water swimming events. On this occasion we also enjoyed viewing–and swimming alongside–a temporary barrel sculpture by the renowned artist, Christo. We joined (for a nominal fee) the Serpentine Swim Club, the oldest swim club in the UK so that we could do some “before hours” swimming and take part in the Club’s weekly Saturday morning race, this time an 880-yard event. I think Justin was the winner, taking the other Serps by surprise, I’m sure.
The local swans also enjoy swimming in the Serpentine. They’re surprisingly unflustered by the swimmers.
Before heading to Henley, we did a little sightseeing in London, including a trip to the viewing gallery at the top of The Shard, London’s tallest building.
The primary purpose of the trip was to swim in Henley Swim’s Thames Marathon Swim, a 14-km route from Henley-on-Thames (shown here from my room) to the town of Marlow. In this section of the river, there are a series of locks and dams to allow for recreational water activities. It also meant that there were 3 short breaks–and aid stations–where we’d get out and walk around the locks. For anybody looking to #GoLong in the swim, this is an awesome event–very well organized and a chance to swim no more than 25 yards from shore.
This was my 2nd time for this swim event. I was also here in 2013. This time, I was excited to snare a non-wetsuit entry. Here, Justin and I are next to the large buoy ready to start the race.
The race photographer did a good job of capturing Justin….
and me about 10 km into the swim.
Next, it was off to Dover for a very quick look around. Here we have Swimmers Beach at Dover Harbor and the White Cliffs of Dover in the background.
It’s great to visit the statue on the waterfront of Matthew Webb, the first swimmer to cross the Channel, in 1875.
Our last activity was a ferry trip across the Channel to the French port city of Calais, to get a measure of the Channel. The weather was terrific, mostly sunny and with calm seas.
We took a drive down the French coast to Cap Gris Nez, the nearest point of land to England. The White Cliffs of England, though 21 miles away, look deceptively close. The day of our visit, 9 pilot boats were escorting swimmers–7 solo swimmers and 2 relay teams–across the Channel. The luckiest finished their swims at the foot of this cliff. Some happy swimmers, no doubt!