A little short of three years ago in August 2012 when I was in the process of being diagnosed with a tumour, that was serious enough (but that could have been much worse than it was) to get me introduced to the fantastic guys at #Planets, the double edged benefits of Google and a little knowledge became apparent.
I should perhaps therefore have known better and left well alone but I just thought I’d have a peek at the Solent and its reputation for tides.
The main reason for entrusting this project to an organised swim was so that we could forget about all of the logistics, the tides and the traffic and the communicating our presence to the Coastguard to avoid being swept away or run down, nevertheless a quick google couldn’t hurt could it? I know nothing at all about tides and currents. I’ve experienced the sea quite a bit at anywhere between 10 and 30m below, and you certainly feel the effects of current there, but I didn’t really understand how the sea and tides might impact our swim. In the course of training in the open water, I’ve realised that conditions can change quickly, swimming in current is really different and how it looks and behaves can alter within minutes. So like Pandora’s box I’ve opened it and can’t put it back so I’ll have to share it.
The Solent is around 20 miles long ranging in width from about 1 to 4 miles and is a major shipping Channel for passenger, freight and military vessels. has a unique “Double Tide” that means a shorter than normal (and associated greater velocity) neep tide (that apparently is important, and probably why we might be facing it at around 6am in the morning). This makes it both favourable and at the same time hazardous. It has one of the highest densities of declared lifeboat stations in the world. It’s also apparently relatively shallow. So shallow in fact that there is a tradition of locals playing a cricket match at Bramble Bank at low tide but that the game can be cut short by the tide.
Anyway enough of that and back to the bit I’m concentrating on (the training). I’ve had a few abortive trips to the beach over the last few days but Sunday was spectacular, up with the lark and at the beach by 9:30am. We tried a new beach that some of the other Solent swimmers have mentioned “Steamer Point” near to Highcliffe and it was as flat as a pancake. In we went eyes on a target point in the distance and soon we were stood on the beach about half a mile from our start point. The water was much clearer than it usually is at Boscombe, and strangely the mouthfuls I had seemed a lot saltier, but it was an absolute pleasure. For the first time in this project I found myself taking in the views and enjoying it. At the halfway point, we tried to encourage Chloe the Dally in but she wasn’t having any of it so we turned around and swam back to our start point.
The Dryrobe got is first proper outing saving my modesty in the car park and then it was all rounded off with a fantastic beachfront Full English. (The official food of athletes). Most enjoyable swim so far of the whole regime, only two weeks to go and looking good.