Big Swim: Epic Day

So, Saturday was epic. The Chippenham Big Swim – a 2/3 mile river swim I signed up for during a temporary glut of confidence in my swimming abilities. It ended up being only my second ever river swim, owing to a complete dearth of swimming opportunities of late.

Much like my first wild swim at Claverton, the build-up was stressful enough to distract me from the true terror of what I’d signed up to until the very last moment.

I woke on Saturday morning to storms of biblical magnitude sweeping over Bath at half-hourly intervals. Not good. I checked the Facebook group for evidence of the swim being cancelled. Nope. The organiser was holding her nerve, with a chipper little comment about it being lovely swimming in the rain. And so it may be, but last time I checked, swimming in storms was ill-advised to fatal. Flood waters are also deemed a bad accessory to healthy river swimming and the rate water was falling from the sky at that point, floods were certainly a consideration. “Are you sure you want to go?” asked hubby. A very valid question.

When it was time to leave the sky opened anew and hubby and I achieved a level of saturation during the 5 minute walk to the station that could have been matched by staying at home and having a shower. At the station, the screens were all showing flood-related delays. “Are you sure you want to go?” repeated a bewildered husband. Again, valid question. I re-checked Facebook. That woman must be mental. This can’t be safe. But as long as she was holding her nerve, I felt I should hold mine. I’m just stubborn like that.

I got to registration with moments to spare, did a ninja-quick change into my swimming togs and flung myself on the waiting coach to the starting point. Then the nerves kicked in. For the first time that day I started to ruminate on how physically able I was to actually swim this distance.

The weather, meanwhile had rewarded that steel-nerved organiser.  In the ten minutes it took us all to get ready on the riverbank, the sky cleared, the sun blazed and you’d have had a hard job convincing anybody who’d just woken up that there were any storms at all.

I'm the bright pink swim cap

I’m the bright pink swim cap


So in we all got, and off we all went.

I swam. And I swam. And I swam. Christ this is a long way. Ooh, is that Matt on that bridge? Gosh this is pretty. And I swam. And I swam. Is there an end in sight yet? Must be nearly there. And I swam. And I swam. Ooh, Matt’s appeared on the river bank. Am I nearly there yet, love? This feels like a sodding long way. And I swam. And I swam. Oh thank god, is that a finish line? But that’s MILES away! And I swam. And I swam. Until I finally reached the pontoon at the finish line and was hauled un-gracefully from the water because ladders were deemed a healthy and safety risk (??????).

I’d be lying if I said I could move straight away. The gravity hit my limbs like a new lead suit. I needed a good couple of minutes prostrate on the pontoon before I could even consider getting vertical again. Not my most elegant moment, granted, but possibly one of my most satisfying. I’d held my nerve along with Crazy Organiser Lady. I’d swum a distance I didn’t know I could swim. I’d lived to tell the tale. Comfort Zone smashed!

photo (10)



3 thoughts on “Big Swim: Epic Day

  1. Pingback: Wild Swim #4; not the last | My 30 Days Year

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