My sponsored swim has a dynamic twist: I’m going to do it outdoors, because I think that will be funny(?). The reason I’m doing a swim at all is because (as close friends know) I am very bad at swimming and I also I’m scared of putting my face in the water (weird but true!). When I went to Cuba a couple of years ago, I decided to try to face my fears of water and spent a lot of of time swimming in the sea and local pools. Things went swimmingly (lol) but all my fears “resurfaced” (pardon the pun…) when I went scuba diving and had to be dragged underwater by my diving instructor as otherwise I point blank refused to participate. Last summer, I was working with a group of teenagers and we went to a sailing academy in the Isle of White. The instructors wanted me to jump into the water from the decking. Even with a life jacket, wetsuit and helmet, I couldn’t do it. You’ll know the feeling if you’ve ever had a phobia – the prospect of it filled me with terror. I refused and went up to my bedroom to cry (never cry in front of children if you work with them!). I think its funny now, but then the most pitiful points in your life always end up being the funniest when you look back, amiright?
These are those type of harrowing life experiences that are currently fresh in my mind. I always think there’s no point trying to fundraise by getting sponsored for doing something you actually enjoy. So, when I was thinking of what activity to do for sponsorship, i thought, why not do a swim?! That’s outdoors?! In winter??
The pool I’m going to use is 30m across. After several years of swimming lessons at the (very glamorous) Aldersley Swimming Pool, my sisters got badges for swimming about 1500m. The longest I did – the longest I’ve ever been recorded swimming – was 50m on my back. Then I quit. Because I am just awful at swimming. So I know if I’m even going to manage 2 lengths, I need to train up.
My first swim in about 24 months (excluding the Isle of White incident!) was two weeks ago at Central Baths, Wolverhampton. In my childhood, Central Baths was the fancy pool because I was comparing it to Compton Baths, where you couldn’t approach the sides of the pool because the tiles were falling off (weird but true!)… For some reason Compton Baths is now shut down! And with a bit more life experience I can assure you Central Baths is NOT fancy. People wear shoes in the changing rooms, many lockers don’t have doors and changing rooms don’t have locks. The pool itself was fine though, clean and everyone was super friendly. I did one length (30m). Then I tried to do another one to come back and got too tired and had to stop halfway. I repeated this three times…..and I haven’t been back since!
Instead, after researching outdoor winter swimming online I’ve been HIGHLY recommended to start acclimatising myself to cold water so I don’t get hypothermia or die of shock (these are real risks according to google). As a stroke of luck my parents had planned a holiday to the Côte d’Azur this week (near Nice) so I snuck along. Firstly, the Côte d’Azur is REALLY fancy and we are having a great time. Secondly, the Mediterranean sea, where I’ve been “acclimatising” myself to cool water, is much warmer than the swimming pool I’ll be in is gonna be in November. BUT ITS STILL REALLY BLOODY COLD! I’ve been in twice and haven’t warmed up yet?
Here’s a snap of the challenging acclimatisation process…
Please donate for my worthy cause and see you soon with more updates 🙂