End-of Season River-to-River: sunny celebration of swimming at Felixstowe

A bit later than usual this year, 35 local swimmers gathered near the Port of Felixstowe last Sunday morning to swim the 5.8km, tide assisted, from the River Orwell to the River Deben. Sea temp had dropped to 14C but sunshine and a flat(ish) rolling sea made for good October conditions. We’ve held this inclusive, informal, but still iconic and challenging swim every Sept/Oct since 2012, when Felixstowe Swimscapes was established. It wasn’t quite the biggest in terms of numbers, but the fresh sea temp, wide range of ages (16-60) and swim speeds, strength of tidal ‘whoosh’ and number of delicious homemade cakes at the end, made it one of the most memorable!

Highlights included Amanda, who started her ‘serious’ swimming journey at the Swim Smooth clinic in May this year, making the whole distance in skins, with her close friend, Channel solo swimmer and former Squad member Louise, swimming close by her the whole way.

There were also several members - Bob, Kathryn, Susie - of the Suffolk Sport ‘outreach’ swim development programme, taking on a distance and swim course even more challenging than their original goal of a mile at the Great East, with their coaches in there with them on an equal basis.

We had pool specialists, English Channel soloists (Charlie, Louise) squad member Nicola not long back from completing the (slightly more!) iconic Jersey-France swim; not forgetting Nick G, Swimscaper since the start, and now the first person to swim from Sealand to the mainland, in August this year.

The river-to-river starts on the wide open, steeply shelving beach at Landguard Common, northwards past Mannings, the Pier, the Spa Pavilion, Swimscapes bay, around the exposed, swirly Cobbolds Point, to finish at the Dip slipway in Old Felixstowe. That last mile section is the toughest, as tidal assistance wanes and the yellow lifeguard hut remains stubbornly small in the distance! Unofficial times varied from 67 - 90 mins…i.e. 1:10-1:33 / 100m - most people were happy with those stats!

All in all, a lovely way to celebrate the 2018 summer season, that’s seen almost daily sea swimming at Felixstowe (with record high 22+ sea temps), many new friendships and some truly amazing personal achievements.

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Seamus Bennett