Sarah Wheater Reviews the Great Manchester Swim

This was my first open water event of the year (after the Great North Swim was cancelled the previous week) and my second ever race, so I'm still a bit new to this game!

We arrived in plenty of time for my 11am wave, and thanks to a good race pack the parking was straightforward at Salford Quays. This was my home turf, having swum many times at Salford Watersports Centre, so I wasn't worried about the water. I was worried about my lack of training, though!


Changing facilities were warm and bustling, with plenty of encouraging smiles from those who had already finished. The weather was classically Salfordian (a bit like Mancunian, but a few metres West) - drizzle and grey skies. It was a short walk to the acclimatisation zone, and after a dip in there it was time for a quick warm up before setting off.

Adrian Moorhouse started us off and we headed in. There was quite a lot of weed to contend with for the first 50m or so, but once I got out of that and into my stroke the water was good. A shoal of fish swam under me just before the first corner, probably wondering what on earth these strange folk in wetsuits and funny hats were doing.

I soon turned into the narrow canal that joins the two quays, and I have to admit I didn't really like this bit. It was quite shallow, and for some reason underwater objects (from discarded brollies to sunken ships) make me feel uneasy, so I did quite a bit of shutting my eyes and trying not to look at the litter on the bottom! But soon I was out the other side in the familiar surroundings of the watersports centre with yet more lovely fish, feeling much more relaxed.

This was a great spectator course, as people could walk right alongside the swimmers. It was nice to hear the encouragement from the crowd, particularly for some swimmers who were struggling a bit, and the kayakers also did a great job of supporting everyone too.


I finished in a personal best time of 42:26 - plenty of room for improvement next year.


I would definitely do this swim again, and I'd recommend it to anyone who likes a well-organised, mass participation event that is suitable for all abilities. The only negative points I can think of are that the "warm up" on land at the start was a bit slow and the finish was quite a walk from the changing/luggage area (about a mile). But there was a shuttle bus provided.


Another positive was the elite racing - a great chance to watch some of the best in the world. And the fact that I could pop straight into Wagamama for a hot chocolate and some noodles after my swim! :-)


Sarah Wheater, Durham.

The Great Manchester Swim (1 mile) at Salford Quays on 1st July 2012.

( Sounds like you had a great swim :$ and a top venue for spectators - Ed).


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