08/09/2014 by Carl Reynolds
Back in the last winter, when the days were too short and the nights too long, I saw an ad for the Scilly Swim Challenge – six swims and six walks adding up to 10 miles of swimming and a few walking in one day in the Isles of Scilly – and thought, “Sign up now, because this one will fill up quick”. In the end it took a few weeks to fill up, but I predict that this will be an event that will sell out in a matter of days, if not hours, in the future.
To me it seemed do-able, even if it’s just shy of half the distance of a Channel swim, as we’d have rests, walks to warm up and, surely in September, the sea would be at least 17C. I met the Farnham Farts at Exeter and they generously folded me into their posse for the weekend. And immediately we were into talks, more talks and more talks about all things from cake to contemplation, via non-violent conversation and cold water benefits…as swimmers do.
Now I could blather on about the particularities of each swim, but I shan’t. Suffice to say that the water was mainly in the range of 13 to 15C, abruptly fell some way below this on occasion and was welcomingly rather warmer over the shallows on some approaches and exits from islands. The sun came out for the second swim, after I’d lost sensation in both my hands and feet on the first one, stayed out for the duration and was a boon to a cooling body on the longer swims. It was mostly gentle swell, but with a 45 minute slog through contradicting chop into St Agnes (the last section of a 5.8km swim); and a vicious counter current close into St Mary’s on the last leg. Reader – I did all the swims, and only missed a few hundred metres at the end, by climbing up the cliffs, jumping up onto the grassy battlements of the garrison and running back to town; as I had got fed up with progressing a mere 200m in 30 minutes.
To those of you who love cold water, seascapes, good company, laughter and a not inconsiderable challenge, look out for the entry details towards the end of the year. You’ll love it.
And finally a big think you to Nick, Bryony and Dewi for conceiving it and bringing it to life, and the host of kayakers, support boaters, registrars, caterers, fans and all for embracing us with your enthusiasm for our endeavour.