Tag Archives: Sally Goble

Another one inspired by Sally

Swimming with Sally the other week has opened my eyes to the possibilities of London swimming. Normally when I come down for work I write the days off as non-swim days and leave it like that. Chatting to Sally and reading her blog made me realise just how many pools there are in London and how with just a tiny bit of effort I could swim in them.

Last night I was staying near Liverpool St. I nearly decided to go up to Swiss Cottage again as I knew where the pool was and had enjoyed my session, but than I decided that it would a) be cheating (going to a ‘safe’ pool), and b) be an unnecessary trek across London.

A little bit of Googling and I discovered York Hall baths in Bethnal Green, just one tube stop away.

York Hall Baths

York Hall Baths

A grand old building, a well maintained pool area, cool water and three wide lanes that were segregated by speed but also offered plenty of room for over-taking. What more could you want?

The pool was 33m long and my early morning brain couldn’t work out how many lengths I needed to swim to swim a mile, so I just kept going for 80 lengths (2,640m). And it was lovely.

Then I spent most of the post-swim changing time chatting to another guy that was swimming in the pool for the first time. The conversation soon moved on to how much, then how well we swim and so technique was quickly mentioned. As always in these situations I was happy to recommend Swim Canary Wharf. Ray, I think you may have a new customer!

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Inspired by Sally

I really really enjoyed my swim last week with Sally as part of her 50 swims. And part of the reason I enjoyed it so much was the experience of trying out a new pool and swimming in ‘new’ water.

So when I found myself in Bristol this week visiting friends and colleagues I thought I’d try and swim here too.

We checked pools and there was one both near where we were working and near where they lived. Hmmm, decisions decisions. We couldn’t decide, so I decided to swim in both.

Bristol South Swimming Pool

Bristol South Swimming Pool

The lunchtime swim was at Bristol South Swimming Pool – a great, old-fashioned swimming hall. The paint was peeling, it needed a good spruce up, the changing cubicles on the side of the pool were cramped and in general it was a long way away from its former glory. But I loved it. It felt like ‘real’ swimming. And not only did I love it. All three of the lanes were full of swimmers – there were probably at least 30 people in the pool at the same time as me. But the lanes were wide enough to allow easy overtaking and I had a lovely swim.

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Horfield Leisure Centre

After work I went to the pool local to the house. It couldn’t have been more different. A big, modern leisure centre – Horfield Leisure Centre – with lots of sporting facilities including an 8-lane 25m pool. It was bright and modern and brash with all mod cons, but not the same soul as the baths at lunchtime. However, it was equally (if not even more so) as busy and the water was still water, so I swam again.

And it’s funny isn’t it? Neither swim felt great in terms of the swimming, both felt a bit sluggish, but I enjoyed them for the experience. I timed them, not because I was after a good time, but more because I had my watch on anyway.

At lunchtime my mile was 32 minutes. A bit slow, but I could live with it. In the evening I actually felt more sluggish and as I was finishing I was thinking that if I’m going to start doing more than 32 minute miles then 2swim4life is going to be tough with very little rest between swims. So when I finished and realised that I’d done the evening swim in 29 minutes I was pleasantly surprised.

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A one in fifty swim

You’ve heard the expression “one in a million”, well this swim was one if fifty – actually part of Sally Goble’s plan to do 50 swims in 50 days (read more here and here).

As I was in London last night and this morning I asked Sally if I could join her. It’s always great to meet fellow swimmers and I tend not to swim when I come down to London, so I wanted to explore possible pools and get myself more into the habit of swimming down here. As part of Sally’s reason for doing this is social she enthusiastically said yes.

Then of course the realisation hit as Sally suggested meeting at Swiss Cottage at 7am, IN the pool. So that meant a trip across London first thing in the morning to find a pool I’d never been to before at a time when I’m not normally awake!

Too early!

Too early!

I set off in good time as I didn’t want to keep Sally waiting – I say good time, it was of course a ridiculously early time and there was very little good about it. But it did mean that I actually got to the pool a few minutes before 7am and had time to acquaint myself with the new surroundings, get changed and even do a few lengths before Sally arrived.

And then, exactly on time, Sally arrived. Swimmers are a funny breed and although we’ve never met before we had a good chat poolside before we set off to swim our respective miles.

The pool itself was wonderful, clean, cool and with eight busy lanes in use. As I got in there were club swimmers (adults and juniors) swimming in five of the lanes, so just three were left for lane swimmers. It made it busy, but even though the swimmers didn’t obey rule 3 very well it was hard not to get too annoyed as it was just great to see so many swimmers (I certainly tried to avoid breaking rule 5).

The only strange thing about it was that as the club swimming finished the lane swimming lanes were shifted, so from swimming in the medium lane initially (there was no fast lane set up) I was suddenly in the slow lane. Then a few minutes later they opened a fast lane, so I was able to move across there. If you knew to expect it it would have been fine, but seemed strange as an outsider.

In the end I managed 2.3kms – given the extra few lengths I managed before Sally arrived – and it was truly wonderful. I’ve not enjoyed a swim this much for a while, so I was trying to work out why this one was so good. I think it’s because:

I swam – I often say that one of the best things about visiting friends for the weekend is that as you sit and relaxing, drinking tea and reading the papers, on the Sunday you can truly relax as there isn’t a pile of ironing staring at you and you don’t feel guilty about not hoovering. In some senses today’s swim was like that. I just went to swim. I didn’t go to train, to do a set, to hit a distance or time. I just went to swim. And swim is all I did (and chat).

I swam well – not only that, but I swam well. I’m used to how I compare to the seven other people I normally share a lane with in my local pool (quicker than them, about the same as him, not as quick as the guy that gets in for a quick kilometre at 8:20am). Today I was with a new group of people and without racing anyone felt that I held my own in the fast lane.

Breaking the monotony – I’m so used to my local pool that to go for a swim has become almost monotonous and (dare I say it) boring. Today I had to be fully awake and aware of my surroundings just to navigate my way from reception to the pool. It made me swim with my senses fully open and I loved it.

Sally – it was great to meet Sally and a real honour to be allowed to take part in her personal challenge. After the swim we had breakfast and chatted and swapped swimming stories and I have now made another swimming friend.

A great start to the day – but I’m tired now after getting up so early.

The pool in action

The pool in action

Breakfast - why we swim!

Breakfast – why we swim!

Sally & I outside the pool post-swim. Photo stolen from Sally's Facebook page.

Sally & I outside the pool post-swim.
Photo stolen from Sally’s Facebook page.

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