Gemma Battles The Cold Without A Wetsuit

30th June 2016

The first race in the South East Open Water series took place on Saturday 25th June in Dover harbour. Gemma Cumber a 15 year in National Squad, who started open water swimming last year, took part in what was an eventful afternoon for the race participants.  No wetsuits are allowed in the open sea and temperatures were very low at 14 degrees for the 2km race out across the harbour and back again.  Its a mass start event with all age groups and around seventy brave competitors set off across the harbour . Coming back was harder as the waves picked up, not helped much by the ferries coming into the bay and turning around creating a larger than expected swell.  Two competitors were hospitalized, one from a injury and one from hyperthermia, however Gemma came in with a time of 33minutes and 5th in the 12-16 year old age group.
Gemma spent some 12 weeks out of swimming earlier in the year after she had pins inserted into her feet bones and has just come back into training, building up her fitness again. She seems to enjoy the challenge of the open water more than the pool - she says, "I just enjoy it, you get used to the cold and then its just trying to stay out of the way of people who can bang into you..and getting to the finish…there were some really good swimmers from all over the place and it was good to have so many in my age group."
She has a few more “fun” events this summer to do (where she can wear a wetsuit) as well as the remainder of the races in the series.
Head Coach Andy Lobley said, "Delighted to see Gemma back racing and showing a good sign of fitness dispite her operation. God only knows how she managed to get in such cold water because she doesnt like getting in the pool water!!! With Gemma and Beth's results it shows the programme I am offering covers short and distance swimming which is really rewarding"
What the report doesn't tell you is Dad, Matt, also joined Gemma in the swim but he hasn't said where he finished!