I’ve posted a lot of photos of Bournemouth Pier. I walk past it several times a week, at least. Sometimes, I post photos of Boscombe Pier. It’s further down the coast, and I pass it just a few times a year. Every year the British Heart Foundation run a Pier to Pier swim event. I occasionally think about taking part but I’m not fond of the cold waters off our coast.
Still, I’ve often wondered just how hard can it be? The BHF make it sound like an absolute ordeal, insisting everyone wear wetsuits if they wish to join in. Our seas are chilly, but the event is held in July, for goodness sake. It’s a 1.4 mile stretch of sea. I do 1km swims in my club’s pool regularly. It can’t be that hard. Surely…
Having said that, people seem to die in the wet stuff on an alarmingly regular basis. About thirty in Britain in just the last ten days have met their end in coastal and inland waters. Another three perished today. I guess there’s a reason for every fatality. Alcohol, currents and the inability to swim. Did I ever tell my story of how I once saved two teenage girls from the death grip of Mexico’s Pacific coast? More than once, I suspect.
I needed to know to hard it is, though. I’m a curious sort. So Thursday last, I took off my T-shirt and sandals and left them in a neat pile near Bournemouth pier. I walked into the sea and touched the pier. I donned my goggles. And I set off, swimming a plodding but measured breast stroke. And I kept on swimming. And eventually, I touched Boscombe Pier. So I can now inform you, with the authority borne of experience, that swimming from pier to pier is not actually particularly difficult at all.
My Apple Watch told me that it took an hour and eleven minutes. It couldn’t tell me how far I’d swum. More than the 1.4 miles advertised on the BHF website I suspect. I followed the 1.7 mile curve of the bay, for a start. Then there was all the zig zagging around paddle boarders and kayakers.
I’d also swum against the current. I’m sure I would have done it in well under an hour had I swum from Boscombe to Bournemouth. Maybe next time.