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.
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!