By: Blonde Two

When Mr B2 bought me a ticket for the Outdoor Swimming Society’s Dart 10K swimming event back in January (a birthday present) I thought it was a really good idea, in fact it was my idea. He, very sensibly, suggested that I might consider trying a shorter event first (at the time even 1K would have been a challenge) but I, being Blonde and stubborn, insisted. The Dart 10K is the Devon wild swimming event and I wanted to be part of it.

Which was all very well 7 months ago but now the Dart 10K is tomorrow and I have to get into the River Dart in Totnes and out again at Dittisham after swimming what I now realise is going to feel like a very long way (it is a very long way). I genuinely have no idea whether or not I am going to succeed, my suspicions are not but I am all for giving it a go (it would be rude to ignore a birthday present). Here are my current concerns about the matter:

1. I don’t know the way
I know this sounds silly, there will be plenty of support craft there and I know we have to keep to the right and head downstream, but I won’t have one of my trusty Ordnance Survey maps or know what is round the next corner. I have kayaked and canoed this section of the Dart a few times and camped on the banks at Sharpham but rivers (I have discovered) look very different from ‘fish level’.

2. I am scared of being left behind
This is also very silly. I will be in the ‘Leisurely Wave’ wearing a yellow hat and we are leaving Totnes first. I imagine I will quickly be overtaken, first by red hats, then white, then blue (these ‘Elite’ swimmers will be setting off 45 minutes after me). The thought of being left, bobbing around on my own in a very big river does not appeal, although the good thing about rivers is that they have edges.

3. I haven’t done enough training
I have no idea how much ‘enough training’ would have been but I am fairly sure I haven’t done it. With a month off after an operation, I have swum outdoors almost every day since November and in a variety of outfits, locations, light levels and temperatures but distances approaching 10K have always evaded me. This week has been a series of 1K sea swims so I know that my arms and legs are working and that my wetsuit is chafing… but that is just about all I know.

4. ‘The toilet thing’

In the spirit of delicacy (which I do, on occasion, find I have) I am not going to say too much about this topic but put together the combination of morning, nerves, wetsuit and Portaloos and I am sure you can work out what I mean and why it has been the ‘swimming’ thought that has been most occupying my mind!


The only thing a girl can do in these challenging physical situations is to give it a go. I have done scary things before (and I am not talking about Portaloos now), sometimes with success and sometimes without it. If you happen to be wandering along the banks of the Dart tomorrow, give me a wave and a shout of encouragement. I will be the one in a dark wetsuit and a yellow hat!!

Image: Chris

If you and your family love the River Dart (or any river) as much as I do then you might be interested in our children’s story book ‘Dart the River’, which tells Dart’s story from his beginnings high on Dartmoor down to the sea at Dartmouth. Beautifully illustrated by my sister Ali Marshall and available from our shop. Order your copy today.