Last Thursday Bushy and I decided to go for a swim after work. Most normal people swim in a swimming pool, where the water is a reasonable temperature, they have changing rooms for your use, lockers, and hot showers. There is a great pool near where we live in Portsmouth. In fact more than one. We decided to go for a swim in the sea.
I picked him up after work and we drove to the beach. After parking the car, we got our stuff out and started to get changed into our wetsuits when I realised, “what am I going to do with the car key?” In the not too distant past you could have just swum with the key in your pocket, but my car has a fancy zapper style key, which would surely not take well to being submerged in salt water for an extended period of time.
There was no choice, what we had to do was obvious. We drove to my house, put on our wetsuits and then walked through the middle of Portsmouth to the beach. It’s about a 15 minute walk, and takes in part of Albert Road (a popular Portsmouth nightlife area), so as we strolled along, two middle aged men in wetsuits that are probably a little bit too small for them, goggles in one hand, swimming cap in the other we had more than a few funny looks. One cheeky young lady even took a picture of us. I mean, as if it is that unusual to see two men walking around in wetsuits at 8pm on a Thursday evening.
Arriving at the beach we walked into the sea, and off we set. It is about an 800m swim from where you get in to the submarine blocks, which is the route favoured by the Pompey Triathletes on the Saturday morning swim, so we stuck with that. Once you get to the blocks you turn around and come back, for a total of 1600m (which by happy coincidence is also exactly 1 mile).
Bushy and I both swim fairly strongly. Neither of us is super quick, but we can hold our own in the water and are both confident swimmers. What seemed strange is that we were making very very slow progress. There is often a current off of Southsea beach, and tonight was no exception. The current was strong, so strong in fact that it took us almost 50 minutes to swim the 800m to the blocks, which is not quick at all. The way back was a vast improvement, and we both took the chance to work on our sighting on the swim back.
Sighting is where you raise your head out of the water to try and make sure you are going the right way. This has obvious uses. Firstly, you make sure you are pointing the right way and secondly, it stops you from swimming some sort of exaggerated meandering route, rather than the more direct A-B route that would be favourable. I am terrible at sighting, and need all the practice I can get. On a normal 800m swim I reckon I swim closer to 1000m because I seem to be constantly either pointing at the beach, or the Isle of Wight (neither of which are ever in the right direction).
To prove the strength of the current, the swim that took us 50 minutes on the outward leg took 10 on the way back, and we were soon out of the water and walking back to my house.
A very successful swim, great company, great fun.
So if you are a resident of Portsmouth, and you see two men in slightly too small wetsuits walking towards Southsea beach one evening, don’t just gawk at us and laugh, come over and say hello. More than likely it will be me and Bushy, as I doubt anybody else is mad enough to wander around in their wetsuits.