I DID IT! REPORT FROM THE FRONT LINE
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.