I’m glad I never billed this site as a fashion blog, as all I seem to talk about is swimming at the moment. But ya know what? I am the happiest and most fulfilled I’ve been in years, so I will whoop and holler about swimming all I bloody well like. Swimming is cool! Mermaids do it.
Yesterday I took part in the Great North Swim.
I enjoy saying that. I might say it again.
YESTERDAY I TOOK PART IN THE GREAT NORTH SWIM.
And it was amazing.
I am doing three open water races this summer to celebrate my return to human health and raise money for Barnardo’s, specifically – a domestic abuse support service in Cheshire. I completed my first race at Eton Dorney last month (all the splashy details and pics here) and yesterday was event number two – the oh so famous Great North Swim.
I’d managed to actually be excited about this race rather than terrified, completing Dorney boosted my confidence massively but the main cause for excitement was the fact that I had an excuse to go to the Lake District. I’d never been before which – for some reason or other – isn’t a crime against Great Britain. It should be.
I don’t care if you never take up swimming but you must go to the Lake District, it’s crazy crazy beautiful.
I travelled from Manchester with boyface and his parents, whilst mine travelled up from Suffolk. The six of us stayed at Broadoaks Country House (stunning) where they all knew about my swim (mums like to chat when booking hotel rooms, seemingly) and they looked after us gorgeously. I was even allowed to keep my room late so I could come back for a post race jacuzzi. Niiiiiice.
They were SO sweet to me!
The Great North Swim is a huge event, with waves setting off every half hour across the weekend and various distances available depending on what sort of challenge you’re after. Over the weekend nearly 5,000 swimmers swum the mile challenge, to put it into perspective!
Waiting to get in the acclimatisation area
It was a great set up at the lake, with everything from a ‘Made in Cumbria’ farmers market to information on swimming holidays.
The vibe was amazing, it all felt a bit Olympic-y (shut up – it did!) and at one point I had to hold back tears as Coldplay’s Paradise belted out across the PA system as swimmers entered the water. I’m crying a bit now thinking about it. It was just so beautiful and EPIC. And I felt so bloomin’ healthy, which I am still taking time out to get used to every single day.
It was Father’s Day yesterday of course as well, which made it even more emotional. (I may also have been hormonal, it probably wasn’t anywhere near as emotional as I am making out). But it was amazing. So many dads were taking part with their children looking on proudly, whilst there was others who were swimming in memory of their fathers – again, any time this was mentioned on the PA system I had to make sure I wasn’t going to burst into tears. Yeah you can’t even begin to picture my crying OTTness during Justin Rose’s acceptance speech as we listened to the golf on the long drive home.
There were cancer survivors swimming, complete open water newbies swimming, in my wave there was even three generations of the same family swimming!
After acclimatising to the water temperature in a holding pen, we did a mass warm up which was fun but also must have been pretty well thought out as I haven’t been stiff at all since the race. I don’t want to admit that my PE teacher was clearly right about the importance of a proper warm up/cool down but yeah. It’s boring but works.
Gold medallist and world record holder (and Young Sports Personality of the Year!) Josef Craig warmed up with us and offered some wise words before sounding the horn. Apparently I just regularly get encouragement from the best swimmers in the world these days. Yeah.
It was a beach start which meant doing a bit of a Baywatch routine to enter the water, but it was fine. I don’t think many places will rival Windermere when it comes to scenic swimming, I spent most of the swim just gawping at everything around me.
The first half mile was relatively straight forward – hard, obviously, but nothing really to report other than ALL THE BEAUTY SURROUNDING ME. The second half felt like cruel wizardry as I swam against the current…it felt like I was swimming three times as hard as usual to get anywhere. I imagined it to be the swimming equivalent of running up the downwards travelator thing at the end of Gladiators.
I swore a lot (sorry Windermere, I don’t think anyone should swear in your presence) but tried my very best to power through and I finished my mile in 39:05.
I was pretty thrilled with this time to be honest! I haven’t had as much time to swim the past couple of weeks and I’d been sleeping in a tent at Isle of Wight festival only the night before, so I didn’t have high hopes! (I’d also eaten a four course meal, cream tea and fry up before the race, which was – in hindsight – a bit mental).
My time put me in the top 38% of EVERYONE who completed the mile at the weekend though – men and women! So I was really, really super pleased with myself. I’m still trying to figure out where I placed female wise, I know I came 641st but I have no idea how many women took part.
It was so flippin’ great.
My next event is 2.25 miles in the Thames (gag) on the 21st July.
I’m desperate to get closer to my fundraising target before then, so if you’re able to spare a couple of quid for Barnardo’s then it would be massively appreciated. My fundraising page is here.
Can I still carb load the day after a race?!
Thanks to my daddy for taking all the pics! Happy Father’s Day once again!