In October this year we swam in our first ‘Oceanman’ race in Polignano Italy. We decided to take on the challenge as part of our training plan for next year's channel swim attempt (and to have a holiday, of course!). There are three race distances to choose from – the full 10km Oceanman (which we swam), the Half-Oceanman 5km and the sprint distance of 1.5km.
Organising the swim is done solely online through their user friendly website. Their 'mandatory' forms which had to be completed and printed were slightly ambiguous. I have never been asked to have spirometry and an ECG performed before a race before, we were informed that this was in accordance to Italian race law. As we did the race at an off-peak time of year the flights were incredibly good value, as was our accommodation. We booked an apartment in the centre of Polignano for the weekend. We always try and get accommodation with our own cooking facilities so the day before the race we can have a large carb-rich meal.
Polignano is a small town situated 30km south of Bari, Puglia. The old town has a dramatic backdrop overlooking the Adriatic Sea. Our race was scheduled to be on the morning of the 5th October, however recent storms resulted in the sea being considerably choppy. For safety purposes the swim was postponed by 24 hours, a decision which we strongly agreed with.
The swim itself was an out and back loop along the coastline. The weather conditions were perfect – air temperature 25oc and water temperature 21oc . It took a lot of debating weather to do the swim with or without a wetsuit, the majority of the field opting to swim in neoprene. Nick went wetsuit for the extra speed, I went skins for the practice of endurance swimming in cooler waters. The swim began in the small port of Polignano and took a well demarcated route parallel to the coast for 5kms, before turning back around a small island to swim the return 5kms back to the port. Outwards was current assisted and felt like a breeze in comparison to the return leg! Sighting can often be difficult, especially in the sea and when the buoys are widely spaced. This course was one of the best marked that I have swum, with there being large Swim Secure buoys spaced at 500m intervals (the regularly spacing was very helpful with race pacing). The marshalling of the event was very well organised, there were always safety kayaks and boats within sight, should anyone have got into difficulty.
We were both pleased with our race performances and qualified for the world championship Oceanman in Mexico that took place in December (although sadly we could not attend).
Our trip out to Italy wasn't purely about racing, we extended our trip to have several days holiday too. On the afternoon after the race we took a scenic three hour drive (fuelled by several coffees) over to the Amalfi Coast.
For the next couple of days we did multiple adventure swims with our Swim Secure dry bags along different parts of the Amalfi Coast. I had recently purchased the Swim Secure dry bag with shoulder straps, the Wild Swim Bag. It was absolutely brilliant. It meant I could pack all my swimming gear and valuables for the day and know that I had them safe when I was walking and swimming!
Our favourite swim of the holiday was along the coast and into Positano. Those who have visited may know that parking is near impossible in the centre of the town, so to avoid the chaos we parked a couple of kilometres out of town and swam directly in. A much less stressful journey! As open water swimmers we were spoilt along the Amalfi Coast, there are several caves and secluded beaches to swim to, just always watch out for the boat traffic. We would strongly advise to always swim with a Swim Secure tow float just in case you don't see them, they will be sure to see you!
If you would like to follow our future swimming and our pursuit to swim the English Channel, then please join us on Instagram @theswimcouple