… that was my first comment on getting into the water. And that’s mainly because it was – I think the water temperature was 12.7 degrees – certainly a lot colder than the local pool. But the thing is, once I got going I didn’t notice the cold.
Now, for the outdoor swimming regulars, especially those at the BLDSA, I was cheating by wearing a wetsuit. But to be honest I thought for my first outdoor swim of the year it was probably wise. I did consider taking it off for a bit – and then I bottled it. Hopefully next week.
I swam at the Activities Away lake, just outside of Lincoln. It’s a small lake that has an 800m lap for swimmers – so two laps to do a mile. If you look carefully at the photo below you’ll see the two blue buoys in the far corners, it’s round those and back again to complete a lap.
The water itself, apart from being cold, is beautiful. It’s incredibly clean and clear and you can see all the way to the bottom nearly all the way round. In fact as you’re going up the left-hand side of the lake the route is to swim over the top of the sunken canoe, which feels a little strange. If you’re in the area and fancy an outdoor swim I’d definitely recommend it.
As for my swimming, well I did 5 laps which I was quite pleased with – even if I wasn’t brave enough to go wetsuit free.
In both of the open water swims I did last summer it took me about 5-10 minutes to relax and get going. I had put this down to the mass start for both of them (I did the Great North Swim in Windermere and the One Step Beyond swim at Holme Pierrepont in Nottingham). However I had the same feeling yesterday as I set off. I think it is a combination of the cold, a tight wetsuit, the unnatural element of it all and possibly the sheer stupidity of throwing yourself into a cold lake.
However, a few minutes of breaststroke and taking my time allowed me to relax and I was soon swimming crawl and really enjoying it. The ability to just swim without having to constantly turn is so liberating and it was really enjoyable to get into a rhythm that allowed me to swim in more than 25m stretches. I’ve no idea how quickly I swam as on this occasion it was more about doing it and getting used to it, rather than pushing myself, although that will come. The only downside was getting cramp now and again, although it was good to be able to practise how to relieve that while swimming without getting in people’s way in the pool.
The plan now is to do this just about every Saturday morning to get the feeling for it and of course to take the wetsuit off and practise being in the cold without protection – I must be mad!