Dr Simon Bricker has taken part in the ‘Round the Sound’ open water swim in Harrington Sound, Bermuda. This long-standing race attracts swimmers from all over the world, keen to enjoy the pristine coral reefs and crystal-clear warm seas.
Last year the race was nearly cancelled when a hurricane threatened the safety of the island. Although 600 homes temporarily lost power, the hurricane moved on and the race was allowed to continue. Here Simon, 63, tells us about the event and why he chose to take part.
I read a list of the top 100 open water swims in the world and Bermuda appealed for obvious reasons! There are plenty of open water events to choose but some of them take place in rivers like the Hudson which must be a completely difference experience. Maybe I’m a fair-weather swimmer but I like the fact that the Bermuda swim is a non-wetsuit race, with water temperatures averaging 78 degrees in October.
It’s an annual event – this was the 22nd year – and there are a number of distances to choose from 800 metres to 10K. I entered the 10K race which means there are a few ex-Olympians competing at the front, and novices like me at the back.
I last visited the island over 20 years ago when my sister was working in a hospital there. She introduced me to an intensive care nurse called Imogen who later became my wife. We have now been married for 25 years!
The island has changed very little in that time – still expensive but also still quaint and pretty. There is slightly more traffic now but the speed limit remains at 20mph and foreign visitors are not allowed to hire cars.
Days before the race Hurricane Rafael (which preceded Hurricane Sandy) hit the Atlantic near Bermuda bringing very heavy rain and wind. There was a very real possibility of the race being cancelled but luckily the hurricane moved further up the Atlantic. As a safety precaution, the race route was changed so we could only complete about 5.5K.
I was pleased with my time of 1 hour 40 minutes and made it onto the podium. I came third but will admit that there were only four of us in the senior age category!
I like to keep fit and still run as well as swim. I’ve taken part in several marathons and have run London seven times (my personal best was 2 hours 39 minutes) and while it is a great challenge, I noticed after Bermuda that by comparison runners tend to be more introverted. At the start line especially they like to keep themselves to themselves. The swim in Bermuda had a different atmosphere; there was more camaraderie among competitors and everyone was much friendlier.
I also snowboard and in January attended the Doctors Updates conference in Val D’Isére which was very good. I would like to take on more challenges but I think Bermuda might have spoilt me – I’ll go back again this year if I can.
Dr Simon Bricker is a consultant anaesthetist based at the Countess of Chester Hospital. He has private practices at The Grosvenor Hospital, Chester and Spire Murrayfield Hospital, Wirral.