The Dart 10k is now in its 10th year and is organised by the Outdoor Swimming Society. This year over 1600 people took part in the event, which took place over two days. Entry into the event is limited to approximately 800 each day, so my brother James and I were really pleased to be able to enter. We decided to raise money for two charities; Mind – improving awareness to mental health and Level Water – helping kids with disabilities learn to swim.
Training for the event started in June, which involved regular pool swimming and as much outside open water swimming as possible; mainly sea swims building up to the 10k. Unfortunately, training didn’t go too well, with my longest swim prior to the event being approximately 5k, which is about 3 miles.
On the Saturday morning I was nervous; I knew that I would be swimming for approximately three hours. There were four waves: steady 35/40 minute mile swimmers to leave first, medium wave 30/35 minute mile swimmers (wearing red hats, which we were in), fast swimmers sub 25/ 30 minute mile and then elite swimmers in the sub 20 wave, all leaving 15 minutes after the previous wave.
Medium waves started at 11am. As we entered the tepid water, which was around 15°C, there was no turning back. The first 500 metres was tricky; trying to find my place in a large group, control my breathing and trying to settle into a rhythm. The first feeding station was at 4k; making it to this was reassuring, I was feeling comfortable and the swim was enjoyable. With a handful of jelly babies and some water, I continued after a quick two-minute rest. The second leg of the swim took us through some great scenery. It was around this time that some of the fast wave and elite swimmers started to pass me (with ease). I started to feel a little tired and around 6k I began looking out for the next feeding station at 7k. At this point, I was really starting to feel it! A quick three-minute stop with water, banana, jelly babies and a sports gel I had stuffed up my leg, I was ready to continue. Starting the last 3k of the swim was tough, my body started to seize up… I knew I couldn’t stop, if I did I would not be able to continue, so I just got my head down and kept going… one arm over the other. It was gruelling, but I was not alone. I kept my eye on a few swimmers around me and just focussed on swimming with them and keeping up. With 500 metres to go I could see the large 10k sign in the distance, with the end in sight, I really went for it.
I managed to cross the line in 2hours 43 minutes, which I was really pleased with. My brother was slightly faster with 2hrs 32 minutes. We were greeted at the end with a hot chocolate, in a Dart 10k Challenge mug, for our efforts. It was a great event, really well organised and I will definitely look to do it again next year.
I would like to thank all staff and students who took time to bake a cake. The cake sale in school raised £144.80, which is amazing! Overall, we have raised £940 so far, including Gift Aid and still counting… If you would like to make a donation please visit: https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/JamesNathanRowe.