Through the summer of 2015, we have been working with South West Lakes Trust to provide a regular opportunity for open-water swim training in Wimbleball Lake, the beautiful venue of the infamously tough Exmoor Ironman 70.3 race which we are lucky to have more or less on our doorstep. It’s the first time that South West Water – the owners of the lake and nature reserve – have permitted swimming as part of the centers many activities (it is open with restricted access for registered athletes as part of the deal that Ironman have to host the 70.3 event here) and involved a lengthy process working with SW Lakes to develop a set of NOPs and safety training for their staff and ourselves as coaches. In itself this has been a very interesting experience, given the “extreme” nature of the site and the managing the risks perceived by SW water to allow for this “potentially fatal” activity to take place on their land….The result, however, has been that we were able to offer open -water swim training sessions with an exceptional level of safety cover, as well as coaching from Steven and Myself in one of the most beautiful swimming locations around. We were very pleased that demand for the sessions was high for the early season sessions, from the very cold start in May ( just 12 degrees, that’s bracing!! but we had several hardy swimmers in the water for close to an hour!) with the majority of these training for the half- Ironman event at the end of June. Most people opted to make a morning – or even a day- of it, taking their bikes out around the 70.3 course following their swim, running on the trails of Exmoor…or both.
Attendance dipped following the 70.3 race, picking up again through July as people prepared for other later season triathlon races with open-water swims, or just to enjoy the early morning dip as the lake temperature became warmer ( reaching a high of 18 degrees late August) and their open water swimming confidence grew. We certainly had some glorious mornings up there, and feedback has been very positive both about the venue and the coaching sessions or just advice that we offered.
With two new triathlons booked in at the venue in 2016 – the Freak Events Olympic Distance race ( over two days ) on 4/5th June 2016 and the Xman XXX full-iron-distance race on 31st July -we expect to see even more triathletes making use of these sessions in 2016, and will run as many as capacity allows. We hope to engage with local triathlon clubs to help out with the provision of safety and coaching cover in return for “club swims” and coaching experience….if you are involved in a local club and wish to discuss this further, email firstname.lastname@example.org
We will resume early May 2016 and run the sessions at least fortnightly, avoiding race dates, until the end of September. Booking will be open via the SWLakes Trust website from April.
See you at the Lake!!