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GRACE HAN­COCK Age 23 From Brighton Fin­ish time 2:12:40

STAND­ING ON THE beach at 7am I was ex­pe­ri­enc­ing more than the usual race nerves. I’d en­tered this race in a bid to con­quer my fear of open wa­ter, which I felt was hold­ing me back from events. I’d only been swim­ming prop­erly for a year and had un­der­taken my first sea swim just seven days be­fore­hand with Brighton Tri Club.

See­ing the pros in the first wave go slightly off course didn’t help, but I lis­tened care­fully to the of­fi­cials’ ad­vice to aim for the left as the cur­rent would nat­u­rally pull us right.

The wa­ter wasn’t as cold as I’d imag­ined but it still tasted hor­ri­ble. It was a re­lief to reach the first buoy, which had seemed to be float­ing fur­ther and fur­ther away from me (the tide was pulling us back­wards). The lifeboat had made a num­ber of trips out to swim­mers but I told my­self that be­ing res­cued wasn’t an op­tion.

Af­ter a smooth tran­si­tion I was out on the bike as pro­fes­sional rac­ers whizzed past at speeds I can only imag­ine. My spring train­ing camp in Mal­lorca re­ally helped with the tough climb up Beachy Head Road and the views at the top were in­cred­i­ble. Plus the down­hill sec­tion was one of the high­lights of the race.

By the time I set off on the run I was tired and rain had turned a steep grassy de­scent into a wa­ter­slide. We’d been warned in the race brief­ing to use our moun­tain goat skills; I suc­cess­fully nav­i­gated it and reached the pave­ment sec­tion in one piece.

All my tri club friends were there to cheer me over the prom­e­nade fin­ish line. The mar­shals and spec­ta­tors were great, stay­ing cheer­ful in the rain and shout­ing en­cour­age­ment no mat­ter what your time and po­si­tion.

This race has given me such a con­fi­dence boost that I’ve signed up for the Arun­del Cas­tle Triathlon my first Olympic dis­tance – and per­haps that’s the big­gest trib­ute I can pay. I’d rec­om­mend this to any ner­vous novice at­tempt­ing their first sea swim race.

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