Well I found myself simultaneously in that rubber suit and the River Thames skulking under Henley Bridge (as you do). I did have company though with about 300 others awaiting the start of the Henley "Bridge to Bridge" swim. A mere 14 kilometres, quite a daunting prospect when the furthest you've ever swum in one go is is 5km (see here)
Now Bob, who of course has been on great Binge Bashing form recently has taken his training very seriously and done any number of 5 and 6 km open water swim, had given this event quite a lot of thought and came up with a cunning plan: Suggested that he was going to avoid the usual scrum at the start by hanging at the back and then just working his way through the field.
Now I'm still relatively new to these things but thought that the organisation was pretty good. The race has a mass start, and at the first feed station ( 4 km down stream) you are sorted into groups (rather endearingly referred to as pods). By then I'd settled into a comfortable pace and was swimming with people pretty much my speed.
The descent downstream was then controlled as you finish off the swim in your pod, whilst being shepherded down the river by a couple of safety canoeists, (who did a pretty good job of fending off pleasure craft and barges.)
There are 4 feed stations 3 of which are situated at points where you need to exit the river to navigate around a lock. The first feed station came up really quickly just as I was beginning to get into a decent rhythm, working my way nicely through the field. I had lost Bob by this stage and couldn't tell if he was in front or behind me.
By this point I was glad of the lumps of Mars bars, Malt loaf and Boost bars which were on hand in bite sized pieces to refuel. Teenage triathlete was doing a sterling job on the tow path as the support team and I was encouraged by the news that Bob was in the pod behind.
The third feed station popped up at Hurley Lock, by now we had covered 10k. After a cup of hot chocolate and more Mars bar I discovered some bits of Snickers amongst the offerings, I had no idea how divine the change in texture and saltiness of a peanut could be.
The re entry point was very shallow and rocky and there was a tendency to wobble and stagger which of course only enhanced the pain. In the end it was all too much for me and I lay down in the water on my tummy and dragged myself into the deeper part, doing a pretty good impression of a beached whale, (I was a bit worried that Greenpeace might pop up and halt proceedings by slapping "save the whale" stickers on my bum) not a very elegant but an effective solution.
I was pleasantly surprised how much I enjoyed the swim, there wasn't a single spot where I had thoughts of getting out.
I have to say however that by the end my upper arms were beginning to seize up and trying to lift my arms above my head for the next 48 hours was excruciatingly painful.
A great day out and well worth the effort as the natural order of swimming was restored in the Binge household as I watched Bob finish! which makes us all square at two each for the year!