For the run up to the Great North Swim we swam at a couple of lakes, gaining in confidence and experience. Unfortunately as the date neared it became obvious that Shark wouldn't be able to swim with me as she needed surgery for a non skiing skiing accident (happened whilst on a skiing holiday but not from actually skiing. She is adamant that no alcohol was involved, but I'm yet to be convinced). Shark managed some training with me by using a pull buoy, however I realised that the majority of my open water training would be by myself from then on in. I have to confess, and this won't be news to Shark, is that my concern should have been for her, and a speedy recovery, however it wasn't, you see the thing about swimming with someone else is that if there are any hungry livestock in the water, by having two of you in the water at the same time you've halved your odds of it being you already! Or that was my theory.
With a month to go I could swim a mile in a pool with relative ease, but had yet to do it in a lake. So one sunny Sunday afternoon I took my family to a lake that I'd swim at once before and asked them to watch me from the side. Whilst I was busy concentrating on an encounter free swim (although how I would know would be a mystery as I swam the whole way with my eyes closed when I was under the water), turns out that my kids had been fending off the advances of one angry mother of a swan. They had retreated to the safety of the car (don't blame them) with their phones, and left me to it. If I had been eaten alive I'm not sure how long they would have left it before raising the alarm, although I suspect it would have been when one of three things occurred: they grew hungry, it got dark or their batteries ran out. I'll wager it would be the latter... I so wanted the photographic evidence for Shark and for my JustGiving page but when we looked back at the two photos they did take one was of my son's leg and the other a gravel path as they made a hasty retreat, and there was no way I was getting back in to recapture the moment,
Before the swim I heard a lot from all the non swimmers. Some offering good wishes, some words of wisdom, my favourite from the guys at swimyourswim, which was exactly that- swim your swim, and others a few horror stories. It was the stuff of myth and legend. One friend advised me to be careful of The Mallard. I'd been so distracted worrying about the stuff under me that I'd not considered there'd be angry ducks too. After realising the it was singular rather than mallards I made further enquiries. As it happens The Mallard is the ferry that goes from the east to the west shores and would be nowhere near the swim. My mind once again had been running away with me. I needed to get a grip.