And then all I had to do was to cheer everyone else home. On the far side of the pool, the faster soloists who’d been swimming twenty minute miles were heading towards the end of their own personal marathons. In the lane next to the edge one chap powered down his last length accompanied by a group of supporters running alongside waving flags and cheering. Other supporters had congratulatory notices and banners, or were simply applauding their swimmers in.
None of this is unwarranted – doing Guildford as a solo is incredibly hard, even in the last two or three miles. Before my last swim I discovered there was actually a large heated changing tent on the other side of the pool, something of which I’d been completely unaware. When we went in the ground was covered with bags and bodies, including one woman asleep wrapped in a Dryrobe right in front of the big air blower who looked as though she’d been there for some time.
Soloists were parked around the place with their buddies. One chap wrapped in a sleeping bag on two chairs was being given tea by his mates; he asked “How long have I got?” and on being told replied in panicky tones “Seven minutes?!?” “No, mate”, responded his buddy “Nine. Nine.” “Oh…” said the swimmer, relaxing back. The fact that, even right before your last mile, two minutes extra to rest and recover is so important just gives you an idea of how hard it is for the soloists.