Sunday, 15 October 2017

The joys of night swimming.

This weekend's night swim marked the end of an amazing summer open water swimming season. It promised to be a great evening including swimming, food and entertainment. In addition the weather for this time of year was just balmy, meaning the water wasn't so cold. We arrived on site in good time and unloaded our kit. They had suggested that we bring extra items with us, like torches, camping chairs, warm clothing etc, so when Shark emptied an extra bag out of the back of the car, I paid it no attention.

The venue was bustling with swimmers and their families. Shark and I found an unoccupied bench and, once we had signed in, started to get ready. Shark put on her wetsuit and began emptying the extra bag she had brought. I watched in amusement as she pulled out several torches, a string of fairy lights, electric tea lights and a box of glow sticks. I was expecting her to pull out a candelabra and standard lamp as well, however she thankfully stopped at the glow sticks. My amusement quickly turned to horror as she then began to divide them into two piles. There was no way I was swimming round a lake adorning a set of fairy lights and I managed to negotiate only one torch for me and was expected her to do the same, however she began embellishing her tow float, and herself with the remainder of the lights (of which there were many). Finally we were ready to set off. I did express concern that the tow float looked under considerable pressure from the weight of the lights, however was met with 'the look' and thought I'd leave it there. I could always say I told you so afterwards when the body was found!

Thanks gbimages photography for this lovely pic.
BTW- this is not Shark's tow float we are sitting on!
For safety reasons, and rightly so, we were issued with a glow stick which was attached to the cord at the back of our wetsuits. I'm not entirely sure that Shark needed further illumination, she already looked like Christmas, however rules are rules. We set off doing breaststroke to warm up and enjoy the view with all the lights and campfires back to the beach area, but my wetsuit isn't designed for this stroke and so had to swim front crawl the rest of the way. My wetsuit is also not designed for swimming with a glow stick either, and after several nasty strikes to the face. I thought I was under attack at first, and one near miss decapitation (Shark, not me) I stopped and asked her (for her own safety as well as mine) to help me to relocate it to my goggles. I (probably shouldn't have) used the nearby buoy to steady myself (too scared to use the tow float for fear of electrocution) however this manoeuvre caused an avalanche of lights that were illuminating the buoy. With the help of the safety crew the buoy was quickly returned to its former glory and we were on our way again. We managed to swim a mile, before it began to get too dark for me, my middle aged eyes were struggling to see too far ahead. I suggested we head back to the campsite for pizza (there was a retro pizza van there! How amazing is that?), and Shark, not one to miss a golden opportunity, suggested that as I was struggling to see, that I follow her well lit tow float back. I have to admit it was helpful, however she was so well lit that I suspect that she could actually have guided a plane in to land! Touché Shark!

The campsite atmosphere was great, and when they announced there would be singing I was beside myself with excitement and nostalgia. Sadly the fact that I am still word perfect at Kumbaya and the Kookaburra song would only add more enjoyment to my evening. If I'd known in advance of this most marvellous thing I would have spent the daylight hours doing vocal warm ups and gargling with salt water instead of doing the ironing and cleaning my kitchen! I needn't have worried, it seems that campfire songs have moved on significantly since the 1980's, and modern classics are the thing, which were sung amazingly well by the young girl with a guitar. I'm not sure I would have enhanced the experience at all, and not because my voice had not been in tip tip condition, but rather because I've actually no idea what the words were! Shark look relived when I said I wouldn't be joining in. She thinks she, and the rest of the people that were there have dodged a bullet... I say you can't judge my campfire singing on what you hear on brief car journeys. The acoustics are nowhere near the same!

The campfires were lit, adding atmosphere, and also the opportunities to roast marshmallows! I was delighted when Coach Morg arrived carrying the mother of all marshmallows for us. They were so large that the skewer was practically bowing under the weight. This is not a complaint...

Before we were allowed to go (Shark was driving, I had no choice), we had to make sure that all of Shark's torches and lights were turned off and untangled... It took ages , there were so many. I thank goodness she wasn't plugged into the National Grid, for there would not certainly have been a power dip in the area. Also, and quite an important piece of information- electricity and water don't mix. We had such a lovely evening. The water was amazing, the atmosphere great, the mood lighting (courtesy of Shark) was mostly bright, illuminating and I have to admit, almost a little bit magical.

Finally, it's a year since I first began writing my little blog, which stared as a way of writing about my recovery, the training and the swim I did last year (Windermere one way). I have been amazed and overwhelmed at the amazing response, and lovely messages of support I have had. After I had completed the swim I was asked if I would consider putting last year’s journey into a book. Going from a blog to an e-book is something quite different, and a lot scarier, however I decided after a lot of consideration to take the plunge (no pun intended) and do it, and finally has now been published this week on Amazon. How amazing (but mostly scary) is that? I hope that for those of you that read it feel inspired to not only take on difficult challenges, but also to never underestimate how far you can push yourself to achieve what you set out to do.

Open Water Woman Swims Windermere is available on Amazon

I also have a "group" on Facebook. It's not really a group, as it's only me, but on it I post more regularly, and I'm also on Twitter and Instagram. You'd be very welcome. Here are the links. 😊

1 comment:

  1. This is great! I have always wanted to OWS at night but none of my swim buddies are interested. I live the idea of lights on the buoy..where did you do this swim? Thanks for sharing