Rafaelovici 5K Swim

Rafaelovici 5K Swim As part of our tour to Monte Negro with Ananda, a bunch of us found ourselves staying on the Adriatic coast at Rafaelovici. Monte Negro really is a hidden jewel of a country as far as Brits are concerned – lots of us go to neighbouring Croatia but this excellent beach village close to Budva was on one of several bays with hardly any tourists around (despite calm, mild, very swimmable sea and nice beaches right along the strip). With no few than 2 veterans of the English Channel present, both of whom were training for another crossing later in 2014, a long swim was always going to be on the cards. Well, long by my standards – nothing to those guys....

So, it was on the morning of my 46th birthday, June 5th, that we set off across the bay from Rafaelovici beach with 4 swimmers aiming to do the full across-the-bay-and-back swim and the rest of the guys swimming in relay with the help of a 4-seater pedalo, our Support Craft! With my last experience of open water being the Swim-Run at Antalya in January, I was confident of handling the open water conditions and temperature in the Adriatic, and it only took a couple of minutes to get used to it. The water temp was probably over 20 degrees and it was so calm and placid it was more like a salt water lake than the sea – no waves at all. A far cry from some of the choppy water I’ve encountered in British triathlons!

At first keeping up with the channel swimmers Karteek and Angikar, plus Purnendu who is Monte Negran himself and training for Ironman, was no problem. The sea was clear and I was able to see much deeper than I’m used to, a slightly unnerving experience after a winter of pool training. I was soon into a rhythm and sighting regularly to keep an eye on the other guys and stay close as a pack. It was strange to feel all the variations in temperature – the bay seemed to be divided into warm spots and cold spots with no clear reason as to why – although the difference was probably only a couple of degrees I really felt the chill on those cold zones…The sun, on the other hand, was beating down hard and I later found I’d got some nasty sunburn through the water – first time that’s happened, hope it’s the last. As it was my 46 th birthday I was keen to do 2 things – firstly to achieve something new, like a personal best. Secondly, to offer gratitude for whatever I was experiencing at least 46 times during the day. As it happened I managed to do both – we eventually swam across two bays, a total of around 5km, which took us about an hour and three quarters. I was last to make landfall as my arms were seriously tired at the end I couldn’t keep up with the stronger swimmers. In fact for the whole return leg I was really having to push myself hard to stay in sight of the others, and I was feeling physically challenged by a bit of stiffness and the water temperature which had started to feel cooler than it did when I started. I did feel elated though, as you should on your birthday, at having transcended my previous longest swim of 4k/78 minutes and felt joyful, cheerful and grateful throughout, despite the fatigue. A great swim, a great experience, a great place to spend my Soul’s Day.


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