Open water 2.2km 34min 1.35min/100m 

By Clinton

The Mill to Mill swim took place in Suffolk, going from Dedham Mill to Flatford Mill and for £7.50 it was a bargain! The idea was just to swim, not to race, and then to celebrate with a picnic at the end next to Flatfford mill. There were two waves based on predicted time.

It was a beautiful summers day when we pulled into the overflow carpark on the morning of the race. Walking down the fields to the finish line – which was a set of flags in the water itself. I signed in and picked up my race wristband. We had loads of time so we stowed all our food and clothes with a friend’s picnic set up then started the walk to the start line. We walked along the river bank following the swim course in reverse until we got to Dedham mill. There was a van here for people to put any bags then wanted driving back to the finish / picnic area.

Jess took the opportunity to start off on her run as the first wave of swimmers including myself waded into the river for a deep water (mid river) start, just next to the car park. It felt cold, and I really wanted to start swimming straight away, but we had to wait a few minutes before the start. There were a few people just in swimming costumes so I couldn’t really complain in my wetsuit!

All of a sudden everyone around me started swimming, I’d barely heard the start whistle from one side of the riverbank. The next few minutes were a mass of white water splashes and flailing arms and legs. I kept my head above water swimming the heads up Tarzan drill to avoid the worst of it and to stay on track.

We reached a shallow patch quite soon and I stumbled into a half run half splashing stumble until the river was deep enough to swim again. There was lots of support on the riverbanks, I caught glimpses of people watching and waving. There was even support on the water itself – the riverboats and paddle boards very kindly moved aside allowing the swimmers to take the centre of the river.

The was no noticeable current as we swam around the winding river bends, it was wide enough and deep enough to swim comfortably even if there were other swimmers around.  It was quite busy and even at halfway there were still lots of people swimming, but we spread out over the next half.

I looked up and saw the finish flags leading to the side off the river bank, it was quite muddy at this point and there were some friendly volunteers helping people up the slippery slope. I was 13th out of the water, and I was really happy with that. Timing wasn’t exactly the most accurate but my watch read 34.59 for 2218m for a pace of 1:35 / 100m which was faster than I’d been swimming in the pool.

It was really great to use my watch’s GPS function to record open water swimming, since this was one of the main reasons I’d upgraded in the first place.

All in all a great event, relaxed but still a good number of people out to get a good time. It reminded me a lot of parkrun, that kind of relaxed but competitive atmosphere.  I’d recommend this event to anyone who has a wetsuit or has a good tolerance to the cold. I’d definitely like to go back next year!