River Arun Iron Distance Swim 2018

This year I took part in the River Arun Iron Distance Swim (on the coercion of my dear friends the Southsea Mermaids). For those of you that don’t know, this is a 3.86km (Iron Distance) tidal assisted swim in the River Arun.

We left Portsmouth early “in order to get in the good carpark” and get to the front of the registration queue. At the time, it seemed excessive, but after seeing the hordes of people (500 participants) searching for spaces my club mates experience was proven.

Following a race briefing, we had to get buses to the start of the swim. The weather on the day was absolutely cracking and whilst everyone else put their wetsuits on for the ride, I just couldn’t face it until the last possible minute before the swim. After the bus journey there was A LOT of waiting around to head down to the river, but this gave a great opportunity to get some photos done and chat to club mates. I particularly enjoyed getting the photo above and then the poor photographer waiting whilst the rest of the club photobombed it in ones and twos to give the photo in the banner (42 Pompey Tri competed). The downside of the waiting is that gave me plenty of time to get stressed out about the whole thing (I had only swum 2.5km before then). Thank god for wonderful training partners and friends convincing me that I would be fine and would smash it.

Following the waiting we had a 5 minute walk down to the river with a few more photo ops. We got in the river and it quickly became clear the current was very much in our favour (everyone had to swim back as we had been taken past the line before the start)! I imagine that the start of this race (500 person mass start) was somewhat akin to being trapped in a washing machine full of elbows and feet… great fun for a Saturday morning!

The swim itself passed without incidence and the current picked up pace as the swim progressed. A shout out must be given to the race organisers and the support kayaks who were ever-present on the water and made sure the whole event was safe and fun. I realised towards the end of the swim that I was (with a push) going to come in under the hour… really pleasing given my target time was 10 minutes slower than whatever I swam (i.e. happy to just complete it). As I got out of the water at the bottom of the slipway and I checked my watch and it was 59:02. Safe in the knowledge from the race brief that my official time was taken when I got out of the water I posed for another photo and high fived  friends… I was mortified to discover the organisers lied to me and my time was taken at the top of the slipway (don’t be fooled dear reader). My official time was 59:59… I am not a dramatic but had that ticked over the hour I would have kicked off or cried.

The reality is that this was the fastest iteration of this swim with the tides being massively faster than previous years. Up until this year, only 3 swimmers had gone under 45 minutes, this year alone there were 18! Does that detract from my feeling of success… not at all, you can only tackle the conditions in front of you and I was stoked with my result. I (Mutley) must admit that  I was not impressed by the lack of medal. However, on balance – this was a great day and I am planning to do it again next year. Thank you to my crazy Mermaids for getting me to do and stopping me from bailing!

Elliot Webber