River Thames, Hampton Court Palace to Kingston Bridge, London
October 2012: (2.3miles): 45 mins
It was mid October in London as I stood on the banks of the Thames in Hampton. The cold misty vapour from my lungs was visible along with the shivers and shudders of the other swimmers standing next to me.
The race was originally scheduled for July but had to be moved to October due to health concerns after heavy summer rains.
I was one of only a handful of swimmers not wearing a wetsuit out of about 900 participants. I received strange looks from my fellow competitors and a lady even gestured angrily to me at the start of the race and shouted, "Why are you not wearing a wetsuit?". I explained that not wearing a wetsuit helps in my training as I have to do everything I can to be accustomed to cold water for my future swims. She nodded her head and turned away. She still thought I was an oddball nonetheless.
It was a short and fun race and I was lucky to also be flowing with the strong Thames current. What wasn't fun was that I had to miss two days off work as I ended up with a chronic gastrointestinal illness. But was it all worth it? Absolutely!