Man spreading in the lido sauna, giggling and clocking up metres on my Aspire Channel Swim

Tonight it is pouring, absolutely pouring with rain. But yesterday I went swimming with my friend. It’s the first time I’ve swum with a buddy at Parliament Hill during my Aspire Channel Swim and it was the best fun in ages. We were at uni together, where she played hockey to a very high standard and I rowed to a very low standard. Any swimming was confined to the City Baths, which were periodically flooded by the River Wear, or the pool at Durham School.

We arranged to meet at Parliament Hill Lido. She had travelled half way across London and I had 2 miles to cycle and was late (slow puncture + phone call + pedestrian speed cycling = poor excuses). I found her in the shower area, clad in swim suit, 2 swim hats, gazing up at the small radiant heater. Cue some giggling and a very quick change on my behalf, me thinking, it’s completely crazy to subject someone else to this but I can see we are going to have a very good morning.

She’d brought her wetsuit. So to suit-up or to ‘skins’ it? I lowered myself in, acknowledging and accepting and getting on with the cool temperature, and left her to make her own decision. In she got, out she got. Over she went to put her wetsuit on. Back she came, without wetsuit, and off we set together. We’d had a brief chat about it being a bit nippy, and agreed to get out if it started feeling warm. She is a Very Fit Athlete (ie hill running rather than pavement plodding). I am not. But I have added insulation, which she does not. We’d originally said we’d do a mile together, but with the water temperature at a notsohotso 12’C agreed we’d just see how we got on. We also agreed the swim would involve:

swim + sauna + cuppa tea in changing room + hot lunch in cafe

After a bit she said she was feeling a tad wobbly, so got out and went straight to the sauna. I swam a bit more, then started panicking about a) etiquette – is it ok to ditch your mate in the sauna whilst you swim, and not check they’re ok? b) distance still to be covered.

So I clocked up 16 lengths and jumped out and into the sauna. I have never set foot in the funny wooden structure by the water’s edge – more fool me eh. I opened the door and was met by a fine array of man spreaders, OMG, honestly! Much much worse than the tube I promise. And there right in the corner was my lovely friend. I took one look at her, another at the man spreaders, and started giggling, very loudly. She started talking, and giggling, about 19 to the dozen. I do not know what the man spreaders thought. I just thought they could have given us a bit more space so that my chilly thighs didn’t have to stick to her hot ones. After a lot more loud giggling I realised my neck was on fire, so we shot off to have our cuppa teas from my thermos.

If I’ve made you chortle at all please do think of donating – perhaps your #FirstFiver – to my challenge, thank you very much.

I’ve included the two short but very memorable swims at Clevedon Marine Lake and Portishead Lido in my Aspire Channel Swim total. Both of those involved giggling, mainly as we tried to execute some legs-in-the-air-like-we-don’t-care synchro swimming moves…

17.4 miles down – 4.6 to go!

Let me know if you know anyone doing their entire Aspire swim outdoors, so far I’ve discovered one lady who’s doing as much as she can outside

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Post swim reading on a sunny day last month with my 2 toning swim caps

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