Regaining my work self and moving on: looking for work and an outdoor swim at London Fields Lido

‘Mummy’ said my ten year old daughter (aka the Speedy Swimmer) ‘you need to get a job as otherwise you might lose your work self.’

Next week marks 7 months since I was made redundant, and four since I started the blog. It’s the perfect time to take stock. The Speedy Swimmer is absolutely right. I am itching to get going and get back into the workplace. The last ten days have been focused on contacting people, arranging meetings, booking onto courses and sending off applications. I am positively looking forward to January.

So whilst I might sometimes feel nostalgic for the job and the things I loved about it (and grrr every now and then still be a bit cross) I am channelling my enthusiasm for swimming, books, baking, people and communicating into making a new working life. I have been in limbo and now I am moving on. Rather than missing and wondering about the people I worked with I’m jolly well going to get in touch with them. I need to make new networks and new connections rather than harking on to myself about the old life.

The sun was shining, which pool to choose? Good intentions buzzing in my brain I caught the train mid-morning to London Fields to the glorious 50m lido there. There were 4 wide lanes in operation which means there’s plenty of room to overtake without bashing into other swimmers. I like the fact that the Very Fast Lane (their underlining) states no breaststroke. It was glorious. Proper sunshine glinting on the water and a nice temperature of c21’C found some swimmers in their bikinis.

photo  London Fields map

Longer pools mean better rhythm. I find it much easier to lock into a rhythm in a big pool. Every time I get into a pool I turn my swimming engine on, but I sometimes struggle to keep in gear and end up ploughing through the water. Today, with a six strokes per breath cycle I quickly got into my stride gliding through the water.

photo 1 London fields kit

My swim kit for today’s swim on a nearby bench. NB I was wearing a costume too, and the hat was much needed afterwards. Flip flops are essential, however strong the winter sun it never warms the pool surround and your feet get cold walking to and fro the changing rooms. Actually although the water was warm, and the poolside showers scorching hot, my hands stayed chilled for a couple of hours.

Today’s swim reminded me what a friendly sport outdoor swimming is. For some reason people are much chattier. I don’t mean in a standing around clogging up the shallow end gossiping way but in a smiling at people in the shower way and comparing notes on swims way. You’re pretty unlikely to strike up a conversation with the person next to you in an indoor changing room, whereas it’s a different story out of doors.

I got talking to one lady about her swimming hat, it was bright blue, with ‘WORLD’S BEST SWIMMER’ on it in white writing, with a line above saying ‘it’s not easy being the’…. and underneath ‘so let them enjoy it’. Cool present for a proper swimmer eh. Someone else was sporting a yellow ‘Dart 10k’ cap. I’ve met two other Dart 10k swimmers who run the consultancy Tinder Box and am slightly, actually no a lot, in awe of their swimming prowess.

I still think my ‘home’ lido at Parliament Hill has the edge for its shiny stainless steel casing, extra size, absence of rules and location, but after today’s swim this comes a close second in London. Both pools feature in Jenny Landreth’s excellent book about swimming in the capital ‘Swimming London’ – and she’s blogged about winter swimming events too.

Swimming outside in London’s Zone 1: steam and solitude at the Oasis pool in Covent Garden

I am mildly obsessed with swimming. I could write about outdoor swims, hotel pools and pools I’ve swum in on author tours, I could create lists of swimming books I’ve enjoyed and devise a post about London pools I’ve visited. I wish I was a better swimmer, I’m not graceful and I’m not fast, but I do love it.

Returning to the Oasis: Zone 1 swimming at its best

Today I swam in a pool I’ve not been in for 20 years: Oasis Covent Garden. I was yearning for an outdoor dip, but one for which I wouldn’t need my wetsuit or a 10 minute long shower afterwards to warm up. The Oasis has two pools, one indoor and one outdoor. There were just three of us there outside this morning, each with our own lane. I could vaguely see the other swimmers’ coloured hats through the steam coming off the water, but most of the time it felt as if I was completely on my own, swimming right in the heart of London. How magical is that? I could swim backstroke looking up at the blue winter sky and watch the clouds, or just plough freestyle. The only downside is the size, it felt a bit short and a tad shallow for me to be able to switch into a good rhythm. I didn’t take a photograph today as it’d have felt very intrusive and didn’t seem the right thing to do. But here’s the pool on the cover of Swimming London by @jennylandreth (published by Aurum)- a book which should be on the top of every capital swimmer’s Christmas list! Visit Jenny’s blog about swimming.

Top tip: don’t go Christmas shopping afterwards, it kind of broke the post swim spell…

photo Swimming London

Swimming in the Oasis in the 1990s

The changing rooms were terrible then, I thought it was an urban myth that people broke into the lockers and stole gym-goers’ and swimmers’ clothes and valuables until it happened to someone in our office…. But the water was gorgeous.  I used to cycle to work on Wednesday tube strike days and have a dip in whichever pool had fewest people in, and then head off to buy hot buttered toast to eat at my desk. Perfect.

Swimming mid tour in Guildford

Midway through a long tour we had a two hour rest time in Guildford. I hurtled into M&S to pick up a costume, hopped on a bus to the pool, bought some goggles and spent half an hour gliding up and down in Guildford Spectrum’s competition pool. I am sure I was a much better publicist and tour companion as a result of that swim, and from then on  I always packed a swimsuit and goggles in my tour bag.

Today’s post is dedicated to those people who would rather have been having a swim than doing what they did today…