Challenge 5: The Great London Swim

So. My birthday has been and gone, along with my 25th year. I’ve got so many posts to write up, and I want to do that before I reflect on the year that was, so I hope you’ll bear with me over the next couple of days/weeks while I catch up with myself.

As you all know if you’ve talked to me at any point over the last 12 months, one of the biggest challenges of my #25at25 in terms of physicality was swimming the Great London Swim. I’ve always been a massive fan of the water and have often felt more at home in a pool than anywhere else (I mean, you can’t fall over if you’re floating can you?), so swimming the Great London Swim seemed like an obvious choice. It was one of the earliest challenges I chose for myself. I’d never even considered open water swimming, let alone tried it before but I couldn’t remember not being able to swim, so it felt as though this sort of challenge encompassed everything I wanted #25at25 to be about – pushing me out of my comfort zone – but with the added safety net of it being something I’d done all of my life.

I was so, so pleased when my Dad (that’s Poppa Purk to you) decided that he wanted to join me on this challenge. Throughout the year, we both trained really hard, me tackling lidos and pools in London, while my Dad began hitting Ellerton Lake near my hometown for his open water swims. And I can tell you this – we both thoroughly enjoyed it. Over what’s been a tricky few months for the family for various reasons, we both found solace and solitude in swimming, while also finding a new area of common ground. A week before we were due to swim, I still hadn’t done an “open water” mile – I’d been swimming more than that on a regular basis, but I still had a bit of wetsuit fear, so when I was at home, we headed out for my first open water mile. I loved it. It was weirdly liberating, swimming in the sunshine in a lake was better than I ever could have imagined and afterwards, I was at one with my wetsuit and actually excited about taking on the swim in Millwall Dock the following week.

So you can only imagine how gutted I, we, were to find out that the Great London Swim had been cancelled due to poor water quality. We’d both worked so hard and were massively looking forward to doing something together. We’d received our hats and timing chips, we had supporters who were going to come and cheer us on and we both felt really ready. Nervous, yes. But ready. It was really, really disappointing. It couldn’t be helped though. I’d far rather have not swum than ended up sick from ingesting goodness knows what in Millwall Dock.

So we decided to have our own, unofficial Great Swim. We took to Tooting Bec Lido in our wetsuits and Great Swim caps and swam our mile anyway. It might not have been in Millwall Dock. It might not have been an official event, but we swam a steady mile (in 38 minutes I think) and it was pretty great. Here’s a couple of snaps from our training and from the day.

Thanks for taking this one on with me Dad. Looking forward to lots more open water swimming together in the future! After all, there’s always next year.

PicMonkey CollageDad raised an amazing £303 for Harrisons Fund, who are raising money to find a cure for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. You can sponsor him for all his training and our Unofficial Great Swim here

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