Sunday 28 September 2014
Through two layers of swimming caps and a pair of aged plugs jammed into my ears, I only just heard the call of the marshal ’10 seconds…10 seconds to go!’ We were all in the shallow end of the pool, ‘warming up’, then a muffled but insistent ‘blah’ from the starter horn…and we were pushing off.
The pool was around 3 degrees warmer, on a blissful, early July evening, when I first heard about the Triathlon Relay. As I finished doing lengths that evening, I noticed people arriving and an event being set up. That event – I found out – was the closing event for this year’s Aquathon series and one of the organisers mentioned the late Septem¬ber relay tri. I talked a couple of friends into signing up as team Tri-Curious: Our runner has a couple of London Marathons to her name and our cyclist a similar number of London to Brighton cycles. As our swimmer, I can’t claim any serious distance racing but I do have a wet-suit that fits.
Those early Sunday morning race starts are always a mixed blessing. Usually my lie in morning, removing head from pillow was the first challenge to overcome. But it was all upwards from there… gorgeous, misty morning on Tooting Common, con-trails criss-crossing a blue sky and of course, the incredibly friendly folks of the South London Swimming Club at Tooting Bec Lido.
I don’t yet know my swim time, but I’m pretty sure someone tied lead weights to my feet for the first few lengths. Once I got into my breathing, I felt I could put a bit more push into my arms, though by then, already towards the end of the field by predicted race time, I was one of the last swimmers out. A bit dismayed but not downhearted I went to join our runner at transition along with the motley crew of other teams. Everyone was cyclist spotting and runners were setting off, one by one, many at quite a sprint. After a time, in came our cyclist, a little red-faced but grinning, and I went back to struggle out of my wet-suit, poolside.
Billed as a fun event and definitely true to its billing, it was also characterful: There was batman and the joker, tweanagers, school boys and a very pleasantly crazy Kiwi. There were Hearne Hill Harrier serious contenders with well-practiced veterans of Tooting Bec Lido not far behind them.There were drop handled racers, mountain bikes, city shoppers and a folding bike – unfolded of course – whose rider deliberately set off last and in fantastic tailoring.
Prizes and certificates were given out and the teams gradually dispersed to their Sundays, having taken part in a very nicely run and indeed a fun event. Great atmosphere, great location, really great event for my last swim in Tooting Bec Lido this year.
A big thank you to the SLSC and everyone who volunteered.
by Elisabeth Watson