Jubilee River Swim & Reading Tri
by Rob McQuaide
Jubilee River Swim
I hadn’t swum much in open water before 2021, but this was the year I practically lived in the water in preparation for one event in particular, the Jubilee River Swim.
For those that don’t know, the Jubilee River swim is a 10km open water swim event split up into 4 legs (with 3 locks to walk around). I first signed up to the event on MST Events in 2019, but the pandemic pushed it back a year, which meant more time for training. And finally, the day was here.
I would be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous; my previous longest distance was only 3.8km in the lake. Various questions entered my head and I wondered if I could actually complete this!
On arriving at the event I saw a mass of swimmers. In my head I pictured them all as extreme athletes but in fact they were people of all abilities, many competing for the fun of the event, rather than for a time, which put my mind at ease. While waiting for my turn to get onto the bus to the start, I saw a familiar face in the car park, fellow Tri2O member Adam Phillips, who was due to set off a few waves after mine.
On the bus, nerves kicked in again, I was to be the second wave in the water; each wave was made up of 30 swimmers.
It was a mass start. I managed to get ahead from the middle pack early and comfortably maintained this position for the first kilometre. I felt my breathing and pace were consistent and I finished the first leg (1.5km) within 35 minutes, confident that I could complete the entire thing – what helped most was having friends at each feed station cheering me on.
The second leg (3.6km) was the longest. However, it did not feel it – when I looked at my watch I saw that I was 2:06 into the swim – the time had flown by!
The other swim legs went by easily. Each transition was clearly marked with banners, waving spectators and swimmers exiting, however the exit for the finish was hidden! All I saw through my goggles was a hand wave out of the bushes, ‘surely not’ I thought to myself, but as I got closer I saw the mass of swimmers, spectators and photographers hidden from view behind the narrow exit, quite the anti-climax for the swim I had just completed!
It took a while to sink in, but I was so happy with myself for completing this challenge, it was well organised, friendly and I enjoyed every bit of it. I would happily return next year.
I was drawn to triathlon by the diversity of sports after competing in a ‘fun triathlon’ with work in 2017 and 2021 became the year for triathlons for me. I was lucky to find Tri2O after meeting Mike Nash at Caversham Lake who told me about the Club.
Reading Tri was my last of the year, and it was amazing to see all the hard work that goes into organising this event beforehand with members of the Club.
Arriving at the event I saw many familiar faces greet me that I had met over the previous months, there were so many volunteers on the day that it made organising myself on the day so much easier.
As I arrived early for the event I had a bit of waiting around to do, which was made easy by chatting to many friendly people. Before I knew it my wave was about to start.
Starting individually instead of starting on mass was new to me, I liked it as there was no clashing at the beginning. I felt I could have been in a faster wave for the swim, as I began to overtake the other competitors
I had my breathing and pace on point, but I noticed water kept seeping into my left goggle. I managed to put up with it for a few more minutes, then decided to stop and quickly sort it out, and continue. I realised my mistake a few seconds after I restarted as my breathing was imbalanced and I began to panic! However there was only 200m of the swim left, which I managed to complete.
The transition to cycling was easy with directions clearly marked. I started strong, but after a few minutes many people started to overtake me. I had a feeling that my tyres needed inflating, but I could be just making up excuses!
With the cycle completed I entered transition for the last stage, running. It was quite a scenic route around the lakes, however, the ground was very bumpy, making for uneasy running. Over the year I had realised how much I prefer cycling and swimming over running, and this wasn’t making it any easier!
For some reason I had thought the run was 2 laps of the lake.. and this is the running that I planned in my head. I was horrified to realise there was a third lap!! But I managed to get round in a time I was pleased with.
Overall the event was very well organised and structured, with lots of helpful volunteers to direct, help and cheer us on throughout the day!