Waving, not drowning

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in 6 days time I will have completed my charity swim. So I thought I’d give you all a little update and some thoughts about my swimming experience generally. Since starting my training I have clocked up nearly 70 miles (112km to be precise) in the Lido which, if I was so inclined, would just about get me from home to Southampton. I’ve actually done more than that but not all my swims have been recorded and I spent most of June relearning how to swim. I’ve managed, with the help of my wetsuit, to swim over 2 miles (40 lengths of the Lido) in one go and feel fitter than I have for many, many years. Up until this morning I (you lot) have raised over £1800 which is brilliant.  All good stuff and I’m so glad I gave myself the challenge to swim such a long distance. But doing that training gives you lot’s of time to think, and thinking can be dangerous can’t it? 

Really, honestly, I love swimming. Why would I regularly get up at 6am to get down to the Lido and set myself such a big challenge as completing a 3km sea swim? Only a fool would do that if they didn’t love it.  Wouldn’t they? But there is a part of me that thinks that swimming is a completely unnatural thing to do, that humans should stick to the land where, you know, we won’t die horribly from drowning. I don’t actually think I’m going to drown, after months of training I like to think I’m getting quite good at swimming, but you get quite a lot of time to think in the water. And occasionally I do think “What if I just forget how to swim?” or inexplicably completely run out of energy? Some view swimming as a spiritual endeavour, where you are at one with nature, feeling the water on your body and morphing into some Tarka the Otter type figure. These are the same people that scoff at those that wear wetsuits and proudly boast of how their fingers and toes nearly fell off swimming the Great North Passage.  And I do understand their enthusiasm for cold water swimming, I get a fantastic buzz from swimming in 12 degree water, but if it’s proper cold I’ll happily don my wetsuit, fit as many caps over my head as possible and swim feeling comfortable.

Swimming in Tooting Bec Lido, especially at this time of year when it’s less busy, is an absolute pleasure. You can often be the only person in the water and I enjoy the way the Lido gradually get’s busier around you as you swim, with the hardcore SLSC (South London Swimming Club) members greeting each other and often gossiping as they swim, you feel the Lido coming alive. As you swim you will see new people entering the water and finding their own space in the watery expanse. Some with bare minimum of kit and thrashing their way through the first length to beat the shock of the cold out of their system, some with more kit than a Sports Direct shop. The triathletes are VERY serious about their swimming and have the kit to prove it, complete with energy drinks, pull bouys, kickboards and an attitude that says “I SWIM HARD”. But their presence in the water adds to the experience, their wetsuit clad bodies moving up and down the Lido like menacing U-boats. It’s the Lido, and the people there, that makes swimming a pleasure for me, a pleasure that I hope will help me complete my swim next week and will stay with me for years to come. Oh yeah, and not drowning, that’s a good thing too.

You can, of course, still donate to my charity swim here  – http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fundraiser-web/fundraiser/showFundraiserProfilePage.action?userUrl=RichardCudlip

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