There’s something strange about doing an activity like open water swimming as a mass participation event when it has so many attractions on a small scale. Last weekend, 9 June, we took part in the Great North Swim at Lake Windermere. It is reputed to be the largest open water swim event in the UK, and judging from the number of people we saw having quiet swims on their own in high tarns the next day, a number of people felt a need to restore balance.
It was a great day! Weather was kind, water was relatively warm, organisation was excellent, people were friendly, participants enjoyed a shared experience. From the “Hands up if it’s your first Great Swim” during the warm up it was clear that lots were in fact first timers like us. Adventure daughter swims a lot; I had built up to this day over several months, going from coughing and spluttering trying to remember how the breathing bit works to a confidence that I could cover the distance in a pool. The transition to open water can be daunting. No lanes – no boundaries also means it looks a long way, you can’t touch the bottom or the sides, and the water moves about on its own. But taking part in the event made the transition fun and safe. The build up to the day is intended to encourage more activity. There is a difference between floating on your back for a few minutes at the seaside and purposefully setting out to swim a mile, but both have their merits.
I suspect we’re hooked now – longer distance or the swim-run next year?