We all have our favourite kayaking disciplines: it could be the thrill of white water rapids; the excitement of the slalom competition or the unpredictability of the ocean… BUT is there more out there?
Trawling through my emails one evening my eye was drawn to one sent by Lianne Hickling about supporting a long distance 5km night swim, I thought that sounded interesting…
The date 4th June 2016.
The venue Wykeham Lake, near Scarborough.
It was a Diamond Anniversary for the British long distance swimming association or for short the
I quickly hit reply and committed myself to join the event team.
The 4th June was a beautiful sunny day and my family and I spent a fun filled day in North Shore Scarborough, eating ice cream and fish and chips.
The volunteer kayakers from different clubs and swimmers met at Wykeham Lake at 9pm, we were paired up with our swimmer and discussed tactics e.g. which side to paddle on. Lights/glow sticks were distributed between the kayakers and attached to swimmers, kayaks and paddles and our buoyancy aids. The rules were discussed and what we needed to do if we needed a rescue.
Illuminated buoys were distributed around the 1Km course and safety boats were on standby. By 10pm it was starting to get dark and swimmers and paddlers were given a 15 minute warning. Kayakers got ready by paddling out 10m into the lake to allow the swim to start smoothly. My daughter Freya was very excited, as she was the lucky one that got to start the race at 10:15. And they were off…
I didn’t realise how difficult it would be to identify my swimmer in the dark, all wearing caps and goggles but I soon found her. The field spread out and my job was to paddle alongside her to keep her on course as well as being there in case the swimmer got into difficulty.
As the race progressed it got darker and darker, but seeing all the different lights at different points on the course was brilliant. The buoys which had green lights on them were getting more difficult to see as the night went on. So trying to keep on course and near my swimmer was a challenge, but gave me plenty to do. At the end of each lap I had to shout out my swimmer number to the time keepers on the headland, where a support vehicle was with its many multicoloured lights lit up.
5 laps and 2 hours flew by and soon in the pitch black the race was finished.
Hot drinks and cake were kindly consumed; certificates and prizes were awarded before people headed home to bed.
I can honestly say it was a unique experience that I am glad I was a part of. The swimmers were grateful for our help and support but more importantly I was in awe of what they managed to achieve.