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Wednesday, August 03, 2016

_ Swimming to Space 1 and 2

I volunteered myself to be part of a group at work running, cycling, swimming and other forms of effort to raise money for Surrey Air Ambulance.  Please head over to our money-gathering page to demonstrate support. The basic idea is that as a group we can build up 400 km, which just happens to be the distance to the ISS (when vertically overhead of course). The money goes to SAA because they lifted one of our colleagues out of trouble having sustained a big cycling injury.

Here's our Race To Space entry on the main Race to Space site.

Swim 1

To a Secret Spot in Godalming with book-group friend Liz (who once mentioned the idea of wild swimming and got me for an answer). Regular readers of this blog will know that I've dabbled, more than dabbled, in the outdoor swimming lark in the past. Sadly, all my Godalming swimmer friends have swum off elsewhere, so glad to have company again.

Monday night. Overcast, slight drizzle. Having locked the bikes, down to the river. It's got a tendency to look overgrown and deserted on this bit of the meadow (quite near Peperharow Road) but it's quite well used. Students from Charterhouse traipse through here all the time, and it's a good jogging and dogwalking route.

At the nose of a meander, there's a little sandy beach, wide enough for one. Once prepared, we wade in, pausing to tie the thermometer to a bramble. It shelves steeply, so there's no standing up allowed. We go upstream. Hands get quite chilly for a couple of minutes. No swearing necessary, but I wish I could stand to wave them about. The flow is reasonably quick. Water is sandy, but generally free of debris.

There are various weirs and ditches along the Wey to control the flow. At the point where the ditch draws off some water there's a concrete construction. Good enough for smallish group of teenagers to sit on, while they smoke their, um smoking materials.
Is it cold in there?  
Chilly I would say.
I would never do that!!
On we go, dodging submerged branches occasionally. Breast stroke hardly gets one anywhere, so I try a few blasts of crawl. We eventually make it to another obvious corner, where's there's another copy of the sandy nose, walk out and peek around. We can see a meadow and some farm vehicles.

Going back the other way is much easier. We go sideways round the bends as the current carries us. Clamber out, and check the temperature. 16 or 17 degrees C it says.

Google maps measurement : 560 m.

Swim 2

Wednesday Lunchtime. Bright and breezy. Cycle along the towpath to check water conditions.

Past a usual entry spot opposite the weir, and onwards.  I'm curious about the twisty natural path of the Wey, as opposed to the Navigation which is straight and orderly.  The section I'm talking about is 1.5 km downstream of Farncombe boat house.  It's a bit impractical to get to the natural section at thw weir itself, so I keep going to where the two streams merge, near Broadford Bridge.  After a bit of scouting I pick an entry spot.

The bottom is rocky, and I'm glad of my Crocs.  This time I carry the thermometer, and tie it to a branch once I've made it across the width of the canal.  The flow is strong, and the river is not that wide (certainly no wider than a canal) so I have to pump to keep ahead.

Although it's not really natural, it's a lot more nature-like than the canalised river. Quite a bit of debris on the water, but all harmless: bits of tree and grass, and quite a few downy feathers. Quick list of detectable fauna: cows, dragonflies, geese, a kingfisher (or at least a glistening green missile, so must have been) and a heron or two.  There's almost nowhere to get back up the bank, since the trees have colonised the margin.

I push along until I think I've had enough, and also not wanting to get to close to the geese, who are having a flapping session on the water. It also starts to smell/taste a bit, well, ducky.

Swoosh back to the start point, effortlessly.

Then clamber out, eroding the bank slightly, oops!

The NT, owners of this stretch of towpath, have been beefing up the banks, leaving wires exposed in some cases. Thereby perversely encouraging more erosion on the parts they haven't staked and braced.

Swimming time about 20 minutes altogether. Thermometer reads 17 ÂșC. 400 m on the map (which also shows I have so much more to explore).

Total so far 960 m.

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