Tempting as it was to keep gazing at my wetsuit, getting into it couldn’t be a one off occurrence. I needed to get on with it and dip my toe into water of the non-chlorinated variety.
I’ve been compulsively joining open swim groups on social media these last 12 weeks, possibly trying to convince myself that in some way this made me more credible. As far as engaging went I was a bit daunted and felt inadequately equipped to join what seemed a really close community. With shared passions there sometimes feels a fine line between camaraderie and cliques and as the new girl watching the banter fly back and forth I felt horribly new.
But I guess groups are much like people, with some you just click and this happened when I joined the West Berkshire Open Water Swimmers. Before I knew it I found myself arranging to join them for their Bank Holiday Monday social swim – admittedly the promise of post swim cake helped! At this point I have to particularly thank Nicki for the generous offer of handholding me through my first open swim.
So it was on a dull Bank Holiday Monday (what other kind is there) I found myself stood on the bank of the Thames with a group of 5 strangers ready to make my maiden voyage into open water. I’d contemplated arriving in my wetsuit to avoid the neoprene wrestling infront of strangers, but equally wanted to make a good first impression – so went with the conventional option of wearing clothes. Thankfully the cooler weather meant the suit slipped on without any problems. Getting into the water was fine too, not even stopping to worry about the creatures that might be scampering around my toes. Letting water into my wetsuit was bracing for a split second, but then I was good to go.
Nicki dishing out post swim tea and cake …..my kind of refuelling
What made this jaunt so friendly and relaxed was knowing I had someone who had offered to swim with me, letting me set the pace and distance. It sounds odd to say, but until this moment I hadn’t really thought what swimming in open water would feel like and I don’t really think I can describe it without sounding all evangelical. But it was so much more than the swimming, it was the whole experience, the sense of camaraderie too. Prior to beginning this whole adventure my default mode when it came to exercising was to go solo, the concept of exercise as a sociable event was new to me, but I couldn’t wait to do it again. So the following week Nicki introduced me to Horseshoe Lake, Sandhurst for my first lake swim and my first attempt at sighting…….let’s just say at this rate my mile might turn into a zig zagging mile and a half!
So I guess the message of this blog is to say if you’re sat there even remotely intrigued about what open swimming is like, just do it. People often confess it’s something they’d like to try. Don’t be daunted, come join the community.