Week in week out I lecture on how in openwater there is nothing to help keep you swimming straight apart from your stroke. Only a balanced, symmetrical movement with limbs creating equal movements should be relied upon, the alternative is lots of sighting! You might have read this a few months ago as i discussed how many Triathletes effectively swim single armed –
Well finally all that goes out the window in the Henley Classic Swim as you swim on part of the rowing course that is a 2.1km straight stretch of the river which has two solid lane ropes either side to keep you penned in! Fantastic I hear you say. Well, this comes at a price, alarm goes at 3:05, yes Gatwick o’clock! The swimmers need to be out before the rowers get in and finishing a race before 5:30am does take some adjusting to. It feels like lunchtime but you need breakfast and a nap!
It is quite surreal seeing all the booms and barriers in the water to keep the rowing lanes separate and then there are the officials huts that seem to float on water. It is has a race course feel to it. The guys at Henley always put on a good show. Jeremy came for some lessons about 12 yrs ago and having swum the Bridge to Bridge and a few other events I have no qualms endorsing the races and the organisation. Bags ready when you exit, flip-flops in the right place, large buoys, lots of safety cover, hot chocolate & kayaks everywhere. And glorious Henley.
The stats above show a slow 2.2km but that included a near 4min pre start as I got in for a warmup. I won my AG in 28:28 so that was ok considering I am in quite heavy training for Geneva and the rest of the summer.
Camping was quite fun and it helped to be on site when the alarm went and bag check closed at 3:45. A parade of rubber down the river bank to the start under the amazing Lazer that outlines the straight course and before you know it, it is 4:30am and it is time to swim to the start. A mix of Triathletes and Openwater swimmers combine to make it quite a fast race with many categories including Non Wetsuits.
The water was warm and crystal clear, just idyllic conditions and you swim past some amazing sights, houses and boats and use the clock tower in Henley to sight once it is just light enough to see! It has been two years since the Bridge to Bridge for me <now the Thames Marathon> and I might just have to check dates for that again.
I mentioned we taught Jeremy all those years ago well it was lovely at the finish to have a few people in the water come over and say thanks for helping x,y,z many years ago with lessons and how they were enjoying their swimming. Matt M was a popular & fast swimmer at Putney Fitness not that long ago <now with Reading SC> and great to be on a podium with him. Amazing progress. As a coach and teacher there is nothing better then sharing a finish line with those you have helped.