First challenge of the year; join me swimming to Pells Pool in Lewes?

high above Oxford Street
Floaty jellyfish like installation above Oxford Street

 

I have been mulling over which swimming challenge to take on this year. It’s all very well swimming up and down but I need a bit more purpose, something to aim for. Back in September I set myself the goal of swimming outside at the lido, without a wetsuit, for as long as I could into the winter. I thought I’d don a rash vest, but I didn’t. We were blessed with a bizarrely warm end to the year, which helped no end, and it was really exhilarating to enjoy swims on both Christmas Eve (10’C water) and New Year’s Day (8’C water). The video is proof of my 1.1.2016 swim 

The temperatures are now back at more seasonal level, so water around 4-5’C and I am just not sure about that, so for now I’ve moved inside to Kentish Town. It’s a beautiful Victorian pool, 30m long, with windows on the sloping roof through which you can see blue sky and sometimes vapour trails. They keep it cool, and when possible it’s lit just by natural light. It’s not a patch on a lido though… today the pool was evacuated for a false alarm, someone dropped their lunchtime soup in the changing room, splat, and rather than clear it up themselves left it there, and the chemical cocktail in the water gave me a very ruddy, stingy face. But I clocked up 1.2km.

Since the new year I’ve been mulling over which swimming challenge to take on. It’s all very well swimming up and down but I need a bit more purpose, something to aim for. My uber sporty friend suggested a race; knowing I’m a solitary swimmer she thought a distance challenge might work. So, something like swimming the Channel (21 miles according to the Channel Swimming Association), or swimming across the Solent (mile and a quarter), and asking others if they’d like to join me with us regularly clocking in to update distances swum to date. I then got carried away. Pells Pool in Lewes is top of my list of lidos I’d like to swim in this year. I checked out the route on the AA Route Planner. It’s 94.9 miles / 152.7km away from my home! Imagine, though, I could swim the distance there AND swim in it too. That’s the equivalent of 5090 lengths of the pool at Kentish Town. Here’s Pells – doesn’t it look gorgeous? (Photo credit @PellsPool)

Pells Lido 2015

Is there a pool you’d like to swim to this season – and then swim in? Please do let me know if you’d like to join the challenge. I’m going to get drawing and do a lido-ometer with some other distances-to-lidos marked up along the way. If I do this metaphorically I can first swim to London Fields Lido, on to Hampton lido, out to Charlton Lido, perhaps with an honourable diversion inside to the London Aquatics Centre as it’s such a special pool to visit, and then it’ll be smooth journey south to Pells. Once I’m there I could head north out of London up the A1 to Ilkley Lido – scene of a top 2015 family day out – that’d be a total of 11,206 30m lengths.

I’ve always been a bit envious of some of the swimming hats at the lido – particularly the pink one with ‘Ferries are for Wimps’ on it. Mind boggling, I think the lady is a Channel swimmer. So perhaps through this I can earn myself a special ‘I’ve swum to Pells Pool’ hat…

Will you join me on my challenge? Leave a comment here or find me on twitter @loveswimming

(Pells 5090 – 40 = 5050 to go!)

 

 

 

 

 

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.