COMPETITORS VIEW: Great North Swim

On 12th June 2016, Vikings Kirstine Gerhold, Barry Jones and Campbell Watt took to Windermere to undertake the very impressive challenge of the Great North Swim’s 10km marathon swim.

The course was 6 laps, and with the distance involved, every competitor was given the opportunity to call it a day after any of their laps.  This of course didn’t come into the minds of Kirstine, Barry or Campbell, who all successfully completed the swim in great times.

We caught up with Barry and Campbell following their events, to allow them to fully describe the challenge they overcame, and to get their thoughts on the day and their training leading up to the event.

Barry Jones

“I first became part of the amazing YVTT back in February of this year. I joined the team following a chat with a friend who happened to be a member. I’m a keen surfer and I’d just booked a once in a lifetime surfing trip for October and was chatting about hitting the pool to get surf fit for the trip. “you should come down and swim with the tri swim squad, you’ll get a lot fitter a lot faster than going swimming by yourself “the rest as they say is history.

The squad are super friendly and there’s an abundance of ages and abilities from people who are wanting to get fit, first time triathletes through to a seasoned GB squad member.

Naiomi’s training plans and fully coached sessions suited me down to the ground. I found that having a goal to become as fit as possible so I could enjoy my surf trip really helped me focus and train as Naiomi’s plans were set out. I started off doing Monday and Friday before work. A couple of the team were in training for the marathon swim; the 10K in lake Windermere in June. That sounds like an exciting challenge and happens to be half way prior to my October trip I thought. Before I knew what I had done, I’d signed up, booked some accommodation and planned on making a family weekend away of it.

I cranked up the training and started to go to the Tuesday evening sessions as well as the Monday and Friday mornings. Each week I was feeling more and more confident and i started to notice that putting the stroke tips and techniques Naiomi had given me into practice and all the training  and hard work was paying off. I was now finishing the sets and my times and splits were improving. Having two fellow team mates involved in the 10K preparations really helped. Kirstine and Campbell have been a great source of motivation and support. We’ve been encouraging and supporting each other all the way.

Although a keen all year round surfer I knew I needed to get into the open water ahead of the big day. As soon as Allerthorpe lake opened it’s depths to outdoor swimmers, I was in. The first swim was an eye opener, nothing like swimming in the pool. With almost zero visibility a sense of panic came over me and doubt crept in. Could I do the 10K?
A few words of encouragement from Naiomi, Kirstine and Campbell and a few more sessions in the lake later my long swims had got up to 7.2KM in open water. Along the way I was also lucky enough to join Kirstine and Campbell and have a couple of training sessions with Tom a seasoned open water swimmer from the Lakes who as well has having many accolades in the world of open water swimming is a great guy.

I was now ready. Leading up to the big day I had a few goals in mind. I wanted to finish the 10K and enjoy it and I was beginning to wonder if I could do it in a 3K an hour pace and finish in 3hrs 20mins.

The day arrived, the event was extremely well organised and following a group warm up the claxon sounded and we were off. I heeded the advice I was given, think strong switch off and enjoy the swim and when the race starts stand to the side and let everyone race off. After a few minutes  the medley of arms and legs subsided, Campbell, Kirstine and I entered the water.  

All the training and preparations paid off and I felt strong and confident in my stroke technique, the field of 100 swimmers taking on the 10K soon opened up. I completed the first two laps deciding to ignore my swim plan and didn’t  stop at the feeding and drinking station to refuel. At the first corner on my third lap I soon noticed that the next wave of swimmers  had set off and  I was being literally swam over by 5 or 6 people. After what seemed an age the field once again began to open up and I was back into my stroke. After three laps I stopped to take on some liquid and managed to eat a few jelly babies.  I was half way there, feeling strong and really enjoying the swim. I realised I was going to hit the first corner on my forth lap alongside the third wave of swimmers. This time I took a wider line and managed to stay out of all the madness.

With 600 meters to go I started to build up the pace and kick for home. I crossed the line in 3 hours 7 minutes. I am absolutely thrilled with the time and being part of such a great event with my team mates.

Will I re-enter? Absolutely, windermere 10k is special. So special that I hear three YVTT who recently did the 10k are signing up to swim the length of Windermere one way. May the adventure continue.”

Campbell Watt

“We started on Sunday the 12th on the 8.00 am wave. The whole event had a huge amount of swimmers over the weekend, and in our event there was about 250 swimmers divided over two waves. One on Friday and one on Sunday. Barry finished after 3 hours 7, Kirstine 4.05 and I finished in 4.06.  Though in reality those times were about 5 minutes quicker as we waited for the masses to clear.

I very much enjoyed it. It went surprisingly quick and I was a little disappointed when it finished. The event was one of the best days of my life it was so good”

Really inspiring performances from all 3 Vikings, and it sounded like a great event.  One for others to consider in future!

Barry Campbell Swim