Great North 5Km Open Water

Great North 5Km Open Water

On the 15th June 2014, Alice Dearing, Megan Carline, Tom Derbyshire and Toby Robinson made the trip up North to the picturesque Lake Windermere in Cumbria for the Great North 5Km Open Water and a chance to qualify for the European Open Water Squad.

Up first was the women's race with Alice and Megan representing RWSSC, Alice in the Junior age group and Megan in the Youth. This was Megan's first ever attempt at swimming 5Km open water but neither Megan or Alice showed any signs of nerves as they walked down for the pontoon start.

The 5Km course was 3 laps of the 1 mile route used throughout the weekend for all the other Great North events. The Great Swim Series is Europe's biggest exhibition of open water swimming with the choose of four distances to suit all abilities, including 1/2 mile, 1 mile, 2 miles and the elite 5Km only the elite swimmers would not have the advantage and warmth of a wetsuit!

With their coaches Marc Foster's words of encouragement still ringing in their ears the clacson sounded and off they went!

The first 400m was a straight swim to the first buoy as everyone battled for position, before the long straight to the first turn around point. At the end of the first lap, the field was still very close with a lead breakaway group of around 16 swimmers which included both our girls with Alice Dearing looking strong and holding 2nd position and Megan a few positions behind close on the heels of the girl in front. As the girls completed the 2nd lap the lead group had reduced to around 10 swimmers with Alice jostling for 1st place with Anna Olasz from Hungary, with Megan just 10 metres behind in the now chasing 2nd group of 6 swimmers. As the girls entered into the home stretch on the final lap Anna Olasz had just managed to break clear of Alice, and Alice was having to dig deep into her reserves to fend off the late challenge from 3rd and 4th, but with just 100m to go, Alice picked up her stroke rate and made clear water as she raced for the finish line, and claimed 2nd position in a time of 58:41 and qualified for the FINA World Junior Open Water championships in August at Eilat in Israel.

As the chase group turned the final buoy and the finish gantry was in site there was nothing to separate them with all the swimmers finishing within 10 seconds of each other and Megan touched in an excellent time of 1:00.58 finishing 4th in her age group but narrowly missing selection onto the European squad by just 1 position.

Next up was the men's race with Tom and Toby looking confident and socking up the atmosphere as they got called down to the pontoon again with Marc's words of wisdom echoing in their ears the clacson sounded and off they went to complete the growling 5Km race.

The men set off at a blistering pace with Tom Allen the 2014 FINA 10km Marathon Swimming World Cup winner in Patagones-Viedma, Argentina taking the early lead, with our own Toby Robinson close on his shoulder for the first 2 laps. Unfortunately, the temperature of the Lake proved too much for young Tom, who retired after the first lap.

As the men entered the final lap, there was still a large lead group of around 20 swimmers all fighting and jostling for position around the buoys and trying to gain any advantage over the other swimmers. Open water swimming is not for the faint hearted but with true grit and determination Toby Robinson was still in the front pack. As they raced for the finish gantry Tom Allen had just gained a slight lead, but it was all still to race for and Toby touched in a remarkable time of 54:27 to finish 3rd Junior overall and secured a place on the European Junior Open Water in July at Zagreb in Croatia.

Well done to all our athletes and thanks to Marc Foster for his valuable words of advance and encouragement throughout the day.

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