So I signed up for this event after a month of joining triathlon Redditch (I had not swum for over 12 yrs) but it was something to work towards (Sep), I had never swum in a wetsuit either, so the summer season started and I got some open water training, September got closer and closer and then it was here! The weekend to go down to Dartmouth for the big swim, sat morning got up at 6am and made my porridge to go cup, and walked through the quiet street of Dartmouth to the parking seeing a few bin men looking at me strangely, lol, got to Totnes feeling nervous and excited. I decided to enter the fast wave, now I was thinking s**t am I actually ready for this wave, yes I competed as a child but you know things change. Anyway it was fine, we were the last wave to go, walked into the river and realised it was salty (blonde moment I know) and we were just off! I kept thinking don’t start to fast as its 10km not 2km. The swim had plenty of support in jet skis and paddle boards, also directing you where to go, with the wind and currents and rain it was really strong. At some points where the river was open it felt like you were swimming in the sea, and I tasted it quiet a lot.
There were two floating feeding stations, I thought they were hard to get to because of all the people there and the current was really strong going down, so a quick swig of Lucozade and not and I was off. I wasn’t sure how long it would take, I knew it would be anything between 2-4hrs, So after the second feeding station (about 8km) I thought ok almost there, then I saw we were getting closer and closer to I think was the finish, some guy on a paddle board shouted 300m to go! I thought yes that’s nothing I could sprint this, yeah my arms and legs thought otherwise, by then I could just about get my arms out the water. I swam as much as I could till I had to walk, and then jelly legs came in and slight disorientation but I was ok surprisingly and did it in 2hrs 16mins, I was really chuffed with that. You got a free hot chocolate and a dart10k mug as a souvenir. I felt amazing for having completing it. A few hours later the chafing burn started on my neck which turned horrible and after two weeks of anti biotics I am almost clear, but even with all that I would do it again tomorrow, well maybe not tomorrow, but next year! – Lorraine Dumont
This was my 2nd Dart 10k swim so I thought I knew what to expect 2nd time round … How wrong could I be! When I completed the swim last year I did lots of training – probably over trained by swimming in Dosthill Quarry for 3 hours and completing it in 2hrs 29mins! So this year I took training less seriously!
Accommodation was booked in Paignton (a nice cheap B&B) so we travelled down on the Friday afternoon. We set our alarm for 4:20am in plenty of time on Saturday morning. We finally arrived in Dittisham, paid our money to the farmer and headed across the field to park – we had left in plenty of time as we were the 3rd car in the field! We then had to walk up a hill to the bus stop where 3 buses arrived shortly afterwards. We all hopped on and once it was full we headed to Totnes. They dropped us off right at the meeting point so off we went to pick up our number, swim hat, chip time and goodies. The atmosphere was buzzing at this point. Lots of people were getting changed al fresco so we decided to join them! I soon realised once I had put on my wetsuit that it had a 3″ hole at the side – this now showed my illuminous pink swimsuit popping out – I was sooo embarrassed!
We saw other swimmers from other tri clubs that swim at Upton Warren which is where I did all of my open water training. So it was great to chat and hear other peoples worries and concerns. The only thing I had to contend with last year was the bitter cold water of 13 degrees, so this year at 18 degrees I knew it would be truly tropical!
This year I decided to go in the leisurely wave, which was off after the elite swimmers. All leisurely swimmers wearing yellow hats were rounded up in a pen and given the swim brief. Then off we went following the “Yellow Leisurely Swimmers” sign and headed for the water. Once we were heading down the ramp into the water the chip timing had started, so off we went on our way. The water was a perfect temperature, but it was extremely salty from the start – this I did not enjoy!
After the initial bedlam of starting I soon realised that this was not going to be a pleasant swim! The reeds were horrendous and I think I swam through every single one! There were very large branches lying on the top of the water so these needed to be avoided. If that was not enough to deal with then came the waves! Not what I would class as a “small wave” – it was enough to lift you out of the water and become very nauseous. I felt this was not getting any better! The reeds did eventually disappear and the logs also disappeared but not until we were quite a way down the River Dart!
The first feed station / pontoon came and so I stopped and just drank water to try and take away the taste of the salt. At this point I saw my first red hat (medium wave) coming through. I swam on through more waves and at this point I thought the waves can’t keep going – but they did! After much more swimming the white hats (fast wave) started to arrive and this is where I got bashed on the back and hit on the head! Some of the white hats were truly ferocious and clearly was doing it for a fast time. The second feed station / pontoon came and again I just drank water – with the salty water which is now burning my tongue, and the nausea of the waves this is all I wanted!
At this point I wanted it over and done with and just kept swimming! As I had swum this last year I knew where the right hand turn was to the finish and not to swim too far out – I made that mistake last year! Everyone kept swimming straight on so I sort of ignored them and stayed on the right – I knew we had to go this way. The pink pub which is visible from the River is a fantastic sight to see – this is the end ….. well sort of! The pink pub is just to the left of the beach finish so it really is a good sight to see.
I started to swim faster at the end just to get it over and done with. The beach is not at all pleasant to walk on – it was full of stones and muddy in parts. Trying to balance on stones after a 10k swim is not good! You then head up to the bag collection where you are given a lovely hot chocolate and you are allowed to keep the Dart 10k mug! Then I got changed al fresco but inside my lovely warm DryRobe! We got together with some of the others we were chatting to at the start to tell our tales. Some would do it again, and some was a definite NO! I was a definite no at the time …. but we will see!!
We then went straight back to the car at the farm (which now seemed a long way off but only about a 10 minute wak!) and headed off home! – Jayne Perry