During lockdown, a lot of people got into wild swimming as a form of outdoor exercise. I wasn’t one of them.
Amanda O’Brien was, however, so she and her husband Con set me a challenge to give it a go.
Now, I’m not a strong swimmer, but I figured I could splash about and swim up and down a bit. I love being near or on water so I’d be in my happy place. The challenge is in swimming in a cold open water lake, right?
Wrong. We chose a lake near Camberley because it has an open water swimming club (QuaySwim) and is all geared up to do this properly. But, “properly” means that they had courses mapped out and a very strict policy on only swimming one of their designated routes and only in one direction. Oh dear!
I was nervous enough about the cold water and the not being able to touch or see the bottom, let alone having to swim a minimum of 150m in one go with no sides to grab onto if I needed a breather. But that’s why it’s a challenge, I guess! And I think my cold water barrel dip on Steph’s Packed Lunch a few weeks ago stood me in good stead for the temperature…
Survived to tell the tale
Obviously, I survived to tell the tale. I think it’s been about five years since I last swam so I was actually quite proud of myself, albeit I achieved only the smallest loop (150km).
I would recommend it – I hired a wetsuit, which helped with the cold, and a bit of buoyancy – but I still felt the invigorating benefits of being out in the open water. I came out smiling and clear-headed, and found myself agreeing that I’d do it again. In fact, I managed to leave my bikini top at QuaySwim, so I have to go back! Doh!
Huge thanks to Lucy Haines, the fundraising officer for Alzheimer’s Research UK that I’ve been working with over the last year, for joining me for this challenge. She’s a great swimmer, so she tackled a far longer course after accompanying me on my small loop. Hats off to you, Lucy, and I love the photo of the two of us on completion of the swim!