The Swimmer returned on 12th October in its classic London form: crossing London from north to south in four swims and four runs. Good to see old friends and regulars, but also lots of new faces. The torrential rain that was forecast failed to materialise, and we ran and swam in almost summer-like conditions. We own the weather (obviously next month will be a monsoon!).
Highlights of the day were Marc and his enormous backpack (seriously, the logistics can take a bit of getting your head round, but we aren’t scaling Everest!), Katie having her customary restorative cigarette at the Serpentine, Peter’s frog feet, Hannah’s swimming hat, and Marcus and Peter’s grudge match to the finish. There was also a secret Swimmer Lite taking place, with David leading a breakaway group across London by train.
Longer write-ups can be read here by Katie, John and David, and an awesome film by Peter. What a creative bunch we are!
The end of British Summertime seems like an apt time to look back on the events of the summer. For me, 2013 was all about swimming. Last year I concentrated on running; this year, every morning I could be found at Tooting Leisure Centre with my bag of paddles, fins and pullbuoy. The goal: a summer of long distance swimming.
At first the distances themselves are the goal; then, as training intensifies (ooh, suddenly I can do a 5k training set) a time becomes a goal. A carefully planned progression of races: 3.8k Seahorse Swim, 6.5 Brownsea Island, 14k Henley to Marlow, 10k Little Red Lighthouse (NY), SLSC 107 Lengths (10k) Challenge. Distances that a year ago seemed unattainable.
Why do we do this? I know that I’ll never be Olympic standard, or even win any of these races. But top 20 is a possibility, and there is the adrenaline rush of swimming fast and strong, of pushing yourself to the limit of your physical capabilities. For a short while you allow yourself to feel like an Olympian – racing, swimming tactically. It is fun. You get out the water smiling stupidly. It can hurt afterwards, but it’s worth it. Sometimes I ask myself, why push yourself so hard? Isn’t just completing as important? Why be so obsessed with training? But I want to swim fast, I want to swim as hard as I can for that distance, and I don’t want anyone to overtake me. The training can’t be wasted. But most of all, I got to swim in some amazing places – and when I wasn’t deluding myself that I was Oussama Mellouli, I made sure I stopped to take in the view: the beaches and cliffs of the National Trust’s Brownsea Island, Studland Beach, New York traffic going overhead on George Washington bridge.