Rafael Oya reviews Buttermere recce swim and goggle test.

buttermere recce swim

The Calm Before the Storm on Buttermere, Sunday 26th August.
Little did I realise that on the following day, the calmness would be replaced by high winds, horizontal rain that stabbed your face like little needles, and waves and spray more like the open sea.


Nevertheless, a hardy group turned out to enjoy the British summer and support the event run by head to the hills Pete and Andrea.

After meeting and trying out goggles in the shallows at the start point, and saying hello to many friends including Boot, while watching umbrellas turn inside out, we set off without really having made the decision, shall we go all the way or just see what it feels like.

I joined a new friend Adrian Morris and together we decided to set off straight down the middle rather than hug the edge as previously planned. Looking behind, there were a few others gingerly joining our path but they soon dropped back and turned around. A lone swimmer Tors Hamilton, joined us and now there were three.

We swam and we swam and we swam, but the tree line on the other side  just didn't get any closer. So we carried on swimming while chatting away and laughing lots. Alternating between front crawl and breaststroke and keeping a close eye out for each other, the view did change as we crept along slowly against the strong wave resistance and lashing rain.

Around 2/3rds of the way we spotted a group of swimmers who had decided to hug the shore route to our left, so we swam over to say hello. The general feeling was that we should all turn back, but I hadn't come all the way from Cornwall to fail in my attempt, so in two groups of two. Lianne and Anne set off for the distant shore, and Tors and myself followed with renewed determination. The last quarter was tough but once we could see the tree line finally within reach, we pushed on and just before we reached the shore, waved to Lianne and Anne who were starting the return leg.


buttermere swim recce

The way back with the waves behind us was amazing as instead of fighting the waves, they offered us a sort of shelter making breathing so much easier and I managed the whole way back swimming front crawl with a rhythm which was blissful. I remember thinking at the time what a wonderful place my thoughts were in. There was no target, there were no anxious thoughts, only relaxation and a oneness with the water which made it a truly memorable day. The sensation of relief did not hit me when we got back to the start end, only a feeling that I was very lucky to have experienced such a wonderful day.

We were the last out of the water and it was good that Pete had waited for us. After changing back into soggy clothes from earlier in the day, we met at the hotel where we had some incredible hot chocolate before making our way back.

Can't wait for the event on the 16th now.


Rafael Oya, Oxford. Buttermere recce swim and goggle test. Monday 27th August 2012

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