Wow! That was a fun, wavy challenge!
Last Saturday I led a SE England Triathlon sponsored Open Water Swim session for novices who have signed up for the Brighton & Hove Triathlon in September. We had a really good set up: 19 novice swimmers, most with little or no experience of swimming in the sea, 9 of us coaching in the water, 3 Life Guards and others spotting and encouraging from the beach.
All week the weather had been pretty grim, with rain and strong winds. Come Friday and conditions were still looking very unwelcoming and I spent a while checking with Life Guard Dave if we should cancel the session planned for early next morning.
With a drop in the wind forecast (though hard to believe) and the tide set to be at its low point, we decided to go ahead. And I'm so pleased we did.
Our nineteen novice swimmers seemed to get so much out of it - maybe because standing beach side the waves looked so daunting and grey sea so uninviting! With a high ratio of coaches to swimmers though we were able to give lots of close attention in small groups and tailor the session to each person's needs, emphasising all the time to go at their pace.
As the tide was right out we were also able to gradually venture out step by step to the point where the rolling waves would lift us high off our feet and then back down. As our swimmers got used to the roll and movement we then had some fun riding through and over the waves, focusing on getting into a steady, controlled rhythm.
In the 45 minutes we were out in the sea we got through lots of tips and techniques: being on top of the breathing over different wave directions, crocodile eyes sighting, getting used to swimming close up together and drafting… and more.
For me it was nice to be back working with the group of coaches from Brighton Tri Club. I'd stepped down from my Head Coach role some months ago, though continue to do some Club coaching, particularly with the junior TriStars section. How brilliant to be back, seeing what a super, safe and rich experience we can provide working together as a team.
So big thanks to all those coaching who helped create this: Cathy, Mal, Mik, David, Santi, Rachel, Kev, Simon, plus spotters and helpers Gilles and Mark.
Great reassuring professional help too from our Life Guards, led by Dave.
And a really big, super impressive "well done" to swimmers Margaret, Christine, Paul, Margaret, Roland, Harriet, Tina, Madelyne, Sarah, Sian, John, Rebecca, Julie, Clare, Laura, David, Sharon, Christine and James.