How I cheated the Hurly Burly (and why I’m glad I did!) – by Zoe Tridgell
1st November 2018
It’s been 459 days since I’ve worn my wetsuit. It’s been gathering dust in the wardrobe since I committed to train for a Channel relay (and needed to acclimatise my body to cold water), and to be honest there have been times where I have cried out for it! It’s seen me through my first foray into outdoor swimming, my first 1 mile event, and all the way through to my first marathon swim – the Dart 10k.
So here I am at the Hurly Burly, a 10km swim in Barmouth, Wales at the end of September and I have a dilemma. Do I swim in skins, or do I wear my wetsuit? The dialogue inside my head goes something like this…
“Our Channel relay is planned to take place over the next couple of weeks and you’ve trained in cold water, you can do this!”
“It’s North Wales and bl**dy freezing; it’s a ‘quick’ 10km due to the rushing tide but still a long time to be in cold water”
“Don’t be a chicken, yes it’s been a hot summer and your toes are now used to being warm and pink rather than cold and blue, but this is what you’ve been working towards”
(In my best Welsh accent) “It’s still bl**dy freezing!”
The water temperatures on the day are recorded as 11–13C along the route; a few degrees too cold for my toes to handle so I reach for my wetsuit knowing it’s not worth the risk. I can relax with this one, and enjoy the ride through the Welsh countryside.
With over 700 people joining the event there was a wonderful buzz in the air; a mix of nerves and excitement. The sun was out in force and the water was calm – perfect swimming conditions. The swim started at Barmouth beach with a few yelps as people’s feet entered the water. As with all swim events it’s a little crowded at the start as everyone finds their rhythm, but as we swim under the bridge and pass the Hurly Burly runners we’re all in to our stride. Not one to race, I take the time to look around and breathe in the stunning views – now this is what outdoor swimming is made for.
We must be a few kilometres in when we have to stop swimming and wade through the water. This swim is tide-dependent and so if you hit it at the wrong time you run out of water to swim in! Quite thankful for the workout to my thighs and glutes, and with the sun on my face I take the low tide in my stride and get back to the swim.
It’s always a warming thought when you see the feeding station; we’re half way! Time to rehydrate and refuel. But wait, I’m moving fast and am fairly wide of the feeding station! The rushing tide came in to effect at the wrong time, but I luckily manage to grab a hold of the rope and anchor myself with enough time to sip some water and eat a handful of jelly babies (green of course!).
Now my favourite part of the swim. Your body is feeling tired, but you’ve done the hard work and the end is now in sight. Just one more push and you’ll be there. The tide pushes us across the river, so we’re guided by the safety crew to keep left as we pass the last corner. My toes are cold and I know it’s time to ramp it up a gear and finish this. Stroke by stroke I take stock of my surroundings, pop my head up and see the marquees signalling the swim finish. Nailed it!
To my fellow swimmers – the Hurly Burly is a 10km swim with a difference. The push of the tide makes it the fastest 10km you’ll probably ever swim, and the scenery is truly breath taking.
And to my dilemma – always stay safe in cold water, it’s not worth the risk. I was frustrated I had ‘cheated’ on this swim, but I made the right call. For now, a long-distance swim without my trusty wetsuit remains on my bucket list, so which will it be?
Stay tuned for more adventures.