I eased myself gently into the lake until I slipped on a hunk of plankton and ended up bobbing some where near my ears with a foul expression on my face. The lake was freezing and I had the pleasure of sitting in it for the bizarrely named “warm up”. There’s only one way this could be termed a warm up and the thought of 220 swimmers peeing in unison didn’t improve my look of disgust.
Actual temp was 15.1′C or 59 ‘F for those that understand these things.
I started shivering so got out pretty sharpish but then wished myself back in the water as I now had to hang around in front of the film camera feeling naked or at least a black rubberised version of naked which isn’t much better.
I was in the final wave so with no swimmers following up the rear ready to lap me, I faced the decided risk of coming in dead last. Or just dead, which I suppose would be marginally worse.
Not being a terribly confident drowner, I thought it would be best to steer clear of the main body of swimmers, so swam wide and started at the back. Speedracer keeps terrifying me with tales of swimming right over the top of slower obstructions and I couldn’t trust myself not to start fighting in the middle of the lake if anyone tried that technique on me.
As it was I quickly found myself alone, paddling serenely in the middle of this massive lake enjoying the backdrop of mountains and the occasional break through of sun. It was really quite pleasant and if it wasn’t for the inconvenience of being in some kind of race I would have liked to have taken my time.
Not that my swimming was fast in any way. My overly buoyant wetsuit wasn’t playing on this outing and refused point blank to lift my legs to the surface. Thankfully I hadn’t cut the buttocks out to fashion a pair of chaps or I would have had to swim round in the walking position.
By the end of the first half I started to notice a few problems, my chest was tightening up and I developed a cough. My lungs seemed to be filling with fluid and I was struggling to catch my breath, then the wheezing started and I was convinced I’d developed asthma. There were 3 of us together at this point and the swimmer nearest me had developed a productive cough at about the same time. The safety canoeists swooped in like desert vultures and guided us home, with motivational snippets like, “only 35 more lengths of a pool to go”. 35 lengths was probably the max I’d swam in a long time so I wasn’t that convinced I’d achieve it while threatening to have my first ever asthma attack.
I rolled on to my back a few times to float and to try and relax my breathing but in the end it seemed like the best thing was to get the race over and done with so I could panic on dry ground. I thought I was proper last at this point so when I finally reached the end I thought I better put on a bit of a sprint finish. This photo has to be one of the best action shots ever taken of me – thanks Tanya.
The satellite image shows Lake Windermere in all its glory, the next day as Dan and I drove down past its banks we flushed with pride at the thought of having swum across it. I have actually drawn our mile route on the image in it seems far from traversing the lake, we managed only a delicate nibble off a small corner. One of the rescue canoeists was telling me he had swum the full length of the lake – a mere 10 miles and another woman at the Great North Swim had swum it in both directions.
It still feels good though and now my breathing has recovered I can start making plans for next year, it wouldn’t take much training to ensure myself a whopping pb.
Stats for the event:
Position: 1779/1796 which puts me in the top 99% or if you prefer the bottom 1%. It is almost thrilling to discover that I am quite possibly a better runner than I am a swimmer.
The faster swimmer came home in 0:17:03 which is a bit galling.