Romantic 1500m in Barry

Duncan Verel

Gavin & Stacey fans have been arriving in Barry, South Wales in recent weeks to glimpse at the filming of the sitcom’s new Christmas special.

Wells Masters swimmers Marcus Williams and Matthew Lewis made their way to Barry Island on Sunday 21st July without the sitcom’s young lovers in mind but with the intention of enjoying the romance of a Welsh 1500m open water swim. The romance of a sea swim is nothing new for triathlete and sea-swimming veteran, Marcus, as his relationship with the open water has been long established and nurtured over many successful years of competition. The comparatively younger but increasingly grey-haired Lewis only had a single previous sea swim to recount so was fortunate to receive the abridged tutelage of the wise seafarer before hearing the klaxon.

Despite nursing an unusual and largely inexplicable foot injury, Williams made a predictably confident start to proceedings, dashing into the water ahead of most of the 50 competitors. Lewis wasn’t far behind but however good it may have looked, he didn’t really know what he was doing! Conditions were good, with a calm sea at a comfortable 18 degrees and veteran Williams was quickly comfortable too. The top ten or so pulled away from the rest of the field within the first 400m and the ‘inexperienced’ Lewis was already out of the race, in around 20th position. His Wells teammate was battling well though, in a close group of seven swimmers chasing two clear leaders.

Lewis became more comfortable in the second (and final) lap, and although well behind Williams and the chasing pack, he managed to gain a few positions. In the closing stages, Williams sighted the finish and blasted through to equal ninth place among a couple of competitors flouting the finishing rules! A very fast 16.04 for Marcus evidenced an impressive swim and although unconfirmed by the cursory results, surely gave him an age group victory. Only a minute separated the seven swimmers in the chasing group, and exactly a minute (and four places) behind Williams came Lewis, with enough space around him to afford a relaxed finish! A successful outing for both Wells swimmers then, keeping the veteran’s open water romance alive and giving the newbie his second salty flirtation with the Welsh seas.

History will only remember this time in Barry as one which gave the world another installment of Gavin & Stacey. Perhaps the Wells contingent can return in future years, without the distractions of Nessa and Uncle Bryn, to better capture the attention of the Barry public. Hold your breath...