Marlow Classic River Swim 3Km

A brief summary of Saturdays Marlow River race.

For more information on how to train for an event like this visit my training article on long distance swims 


The Swim consisted of 2 laps of swimming 750m up river followed by 750m down river.

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There were 84 competitors in the river for a mass start with a mixture of swimmers in wetsuits and no wetsuits. The water temperature was a cool 18 degrees c.

My tactic was to start hard for the first 100m after the start gun (which is not a tactic many take on a long distance swim) so I found that I quickly distanced myself from the main group of swimmers within a minute or so I had clear water behind me.

I adopted a smooth steady stroke for the first lap to stay as efficient as possible, but as the race progressed I transitioned into a more straight arm swinging technique to ensure I could keep my stroke rate up.

Although I went off hard I was positioned in 2nd place as one competitor put the hammer down even more and built a 20m lead on me with in a few minutes.

The first lap was steady but solid (no surges after the start) but by leaving the main group behind I paid the price of not being able to draft any body’s slip stream so I had to power against the current myself for the first 750m.

Swimming upstream was noticeably harder and I found my self being pushed into the edge of the river bank on a few occasions ( I should have done a better job sighting).

Once I approached the first buoy to turn around I felt a sense of relief knowing I would have the current behind me for the next 750m and I could feel the pace increase with no added effort.

I held my second position for most of the race and kept a steady pace throughout. I kept an eye other competitors behind me to make sure no one was catching me up. I felt strong through out and kept my Heart rate at a steady pace.

When I approached the 3rd and final buoy (2.25km) I noticed the lead swimmers gap had dropped from 20m to 5m rather rapidly. I sensed this was the lead swimmer fatiguing and because I still felt strong physically and knowing I had built up the endurance to last for 6Km during my long swims in training, I felt I had enough energy to close this gap and then sit in his slip stream for the final 750m.

Benefiting from the decreased resistance swimming at his feet, I decided with 200m to go I would up my pace to see if he had the energy for a head to head race, fortunately his fast start had cost him and I managed to get a solid gap leading into the finish of 5-10m and new that I had won providing my exit out of the river went to plan.

Once I hit the river bank I jumped out onto the matt a ran the last 25m to the finishing shoot just 4seconds ahead of the swimmer who lead the race 2900m of the 3000m

Finishing in a final time of 43minutes and 18seconds

Collecting our winners medals after our swims in the 3Km and 1.5Km

In summary what worked well during the race.

  • Fast start to position myself well in the race
  • Sticking to my own pace and ignoring the faster swimmers
  • Not fighting the current when swimming upstream
  • Sighting regularly and not following the swimmer in front
  • Drafting the lead swimmer towards the end of the race to conserve energy
  • Leaving the sprint finish until the end to avoid a counter attack.
  • Having fun and enjoying the day.