“Sardines” Road Trip - River Arun Swim, 3.8km, Sat 18th June 2016

“Sardines” Road Trip - River Arun Swim, 3.8km, Sat 18th June 2016


(Waiting for the start)

I’ve not been in a swimming race since club swimming at school (and I wasn’t particularly great back then!) so quite how and why I signed up for a 3.8km swim in the River Arun escapes me.
But it’s all good training isn’t it and as 3 of the other “Sardines” were joining me it was going to be a good laugh if nothing else.

3.8km or 2.4miles (ish) is an Ironman or Long Course triathlon swim and the attraction of this race is that it’s started at high/slack water just as the tide turns and the current starts to pull you down river towards the sea - and hopefully the finish line!
The Arun has one of the fastest tidal currents in the UK so this race is where you go for PB times at this distance - with a current up to 3 knots (max) this could be almost double a lot of people’s swim speeds!

We arrived in Littlehampton (nr Arundel) at 8am on the morning of the swim and once we’d managed to get to the same car park and had navigated our way through the town centre we registered at the RNLI centre and got our race packs and transition kit bags - these would be taken back to the finish line for us as we were being bussed to the start point at Ford Marina about 4km away - and listened to the initial race briefing.


(Swim course route, with the tide and current)

There was a bit of a wait between registration and departing on the busses for the start but this did allow us to take on crucial extra calories ahead of the race - hot chocolates at the cafe!

It’s slightly odd sitting on a bus in your wetsuit, with 100 or so other people also in wetsuits but it did give us plenty of extra opportunity to talk about the current (one of the fastest tidal races in the UK) that would be carrying us back to the finish line and also Martyn’s lovely Pink swimming hat!

Hat colours were based on predicted swim time; red (sub 60mins), white (60mins), blue (60-75mins) and pink (75mins +), but as is always the way the pre-race timing prediction didn’t actually mean much other than hat colour!


(Even Glenn is cracking a smile at your hat Martyn!)


(That bloke in the pink hat won’t give up!)

Then it was time to head down the path (500m or so) to the start line - it was to be a mass start and the 450 people would start between two buoys in “hat” order so once everyone was in the water the klaxon went and we were off!!


I found it slightly odd not having any reference points during the swim (probably should have paid a bit more attention to the race briefing and instructions/map before hand but that takes the fun out of it doesn’t it!

Apart from a distinct waft of diesel in the water when passing the moored boats the swim was fairly uneventful, the current didn’t feel particularly fast and when you look at the Garmin plot from my watch the current only really kicks in on the last 800m or so.

Despite there being 450 people swimming it wasn’t that crowded, no kicks or wayward arms at all during the swim and it was only in the last few hundred metres that I was really conscious of someone swimming near me, but this had the effect of making me speed up so was no bad thing!

As I passed under the red foot bridge I remember thinking “I know this is near the end” but I wasn’t really sure how near, so I sped up and hoped that it was only 500m or so to go.  Which luckily for my arms it was!



Coming out of the river onto the slipway we were greeted by fairly large crowds and although I don’t look it in the pictures I was happy with my finishing time of 1hr 7mins - a definite PB for me.



After re-grouping with the other “Sardines” who all had great swims we decided that the best way of refueling was with a pasty and pint a the nearby pub - they don’t tell you that in the triathlon magazines but it’s way better than energy drink!

Martyn kept the girly theme going with a nice pint of Guinness and blackcurrant and even the barmaid had to double check to make sure we weren’t winding her up!

So did I enjoy it? Yes! And would I recommend this to other people? Definitely!
It was well run and friendly and everyone was there to enjoy themselves, and set a PB, so the atmosphere was great.

If you’re interested for next year the organisers website is here: http://rawenergypursuits.co.uk/



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