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 

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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
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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.
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