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Articles by Dartes Swimmers Past and Present

Every now and again, someone pops up out of the deep end and writes an article for the website. Sometimes these are former Dartes swimmers with happy memories to share. Often they're current members with something special or interesting to shout about. Either way, if it's interesting and in some way connected to Dartes or Doncaster Swimming, we'll probably publish it.
Here's one of those articles.

French Open Water Swim Camp


Nationals were over and the rest of his squad were busy enjoying a well earned summer break.

But not Max.

Instead he found himself in the South of France with British Swimming. That might found like enormous fun, but as we always remind people about our own warm weather training camps: they might be warm and sunny, but they're hard work too. This one was rather different to any other training camp he's attended though, and rather different to any other British Swimming activity he's done before too.

This one was his introduction to Open Water!

Author: Max Litchfield
Date: 26 September 2012

"I Can't See My Hand!"

In August this year I travelled to the South of France with British Swimming to train and compete in two open water competitions. I have to say it would probably not have been my first choice of swimming meet but the experience was amazing and I would definitely go again if asked.

Max with Coach Wallace at British Championships Important to say though, that this is not for the faint hearted. If you don't like dark, murky, salty water, or lovely stinging jellyfish then maybe it's not the event for you. Incidentally you can't even see your hand in front of your face when you pull through the water!

On one of the first days we trained in the sea we were on our way back into land when we became aware of a French lady shouting and gesticulating towards us. As no one was fluent in French we did not realise that she was clearly trying to warn us to swim to the rocks and not walk to shore through the weeds. But walk through the weeds we did and several were stung and cut by the jellyfish hiding among them.

The first competition was in Sete, in the South of France. The weather was lovely and the water was warm. The first race included swimming in the sea and a canal and was 2.4km in length. It was totally different from being in the pool especially with the movement of the water.

In that race were 150 boys and girls setting off together. For the first few hundred metres you need to go for it to get ahead of the pack. It is somewhat of a battle and you do get punched and kicked a few times. Once I got going I stayed with the leading group but had to watch where I was going as it is so easy to stray off course.

At about the half way mark several swimmers went the wrong way and I was the only one who got it right but unfortunately I didn't capitalise on it. However i was very proud of myself as I managed a fourth place finish. In fact the top ten swimmers were British.

Finishing an open water swim is also very different as you have to reach up and smack a board above your head.

After the presentations we were straight on to the bus for a four hour journey to Grimaud where we continued our training camp. We did two, 2 hour pool sessions and one sea session probably covering about 10km a day.

Towards the end of the week we flew North to Rennes for the second race which was 5km long. This time it took place in a river so no salty water or waves so perhaps a little more pool like, albeit you still couldn't see your hand in the water. This race was in Redon and again I managed a fourth place.

If you fancy yourself as an open water swimmer then go for it, it is certainly different but not an easy option and you cannot be afraid of what lies beneath.