The bonnie bonnie banks…and a wee problem

2 years on from the tri stress, and 3 years after I first randomly decided to jump in a large body of water for no apparent reason during a family holiday, I happened upon an event called ‘The Great Scottish Swim’. The Great Swim series evolved from the Great Run events – those of ‘Great North Run’ etc.. fame. As someone who had entered running events in the past, the swim events casually started to seep into my inbox through that dark magic that seems to penetrate GDPR law and possibly has something to do with my relentlessly accepting ‘cookies’ because I don’t understand what they are. Unusually, I actually saw and read one of the emails. I say unusually, because I have about 24000 unread emails in my personal inbox, which probably does little for my underlying anxiety, but I seem to have managed to temporarily freeze that albatross in time, so I don’t let it worry me…

Back to the point, though, it turned out there was not only a ‘Great Swim’, but there was a ‘Great Scottish Swim’, and it happened to be taking place in Loch Lomond during a holiday we had planned in Lochgoilhead, which is just around the corner!!! (well just around the Loch – which doesn’t actually have any corners).

Something pulled me back in. Loch Lomond is a very special place, quite quite beautiful, and although overpopulated with tourists at times because of its beauty, it is somewhere so peaceful and serene, I just couldn’t miss the opportunity. So much to my family’s delight in the middle of our holiday, I signed up. The bonus was we have relatives in Glasgow so it actually gave us a great excuse for a family cath up.

I was quite ok with the concept, it was everyone else that started to freak me out – ‘oh it’s sooo cold there!!’, ‘it’s soooo deep’, ‘it’s sooo dark, oh and cold’; ‘what’s in the loch?’, ‘can you see in the water?’, ‘there will be fish in there, and other stuff, and it’s freezing, really really cold…’, ‘are you mad?’, ‘what if something touches your leg?’, ‘has anyone told you how cold it is?’. Cheers everyone. It’s like the M&S cossie all over again. But hey, I’m tough, and I’m damn stubborn.

So we did a ‘warm up’ dip on the day just to acclimatise. As I tiptoed down the ramp, every profanity that I’ve ever heard went through my head, strangely enough, in an Irish accent – as though Mrs Doyle was actually talking to me, you know – ‘jaysus fecking Christ holy mother of God knows what ye bastard….’ kind of thing. Yep it was parky. I lost feeling in my extremities. But would that put me off? Would I still take the plunge? Ahhhh…go an go an go an, ye will ye will ye will.

I did.

Before… (and yes that is a Speedo swimsuit. As IF I’d wear anything less for a professional event..come on)

During… now I did learn something during the swim…. I’ve never really been brave enough to pee in a wetsuit before. Something that has never bothered any of the men I know, or indeed my children, but take that as you will. Personally, I still find myself perfectly capable of going to the loo before and/or after a swim, (or a shower but that’s a whole other conversation). I have also done a good job of convincing myself that peeing in a wetsuit is simply not de rigueur for the times I’ve had to hire one (icky face emoji). My puritanical view did change however, when slightly terrified in a very deep and very cold Scottish Loch. I couldn’t open my eyes when I put my head in, in case there was a gigantic beastie in there, I definitely felt large-ish fish tickling my legs, and the unidentifiable floating greenery wasn’t helping. It was a swim of 2 breaths. Head up to breathe in and spot my position – inhaling the beauty and serenity of the loch and its leafy surrounds, head down to exhale and propel forward, eyes tightly shut, refusing to allow the bottomless chasm of terror below to seep into my vision. The nerves kicked in, and I did need a bit of warming up, so I figured having a pee might actually be a win-win.

I did try, I really did, but I learnt that I can’t actually pee and swim at the same time. I have to stop swimming and doggy paddle to even stand a chance – it seems that when my legs are kicking my pelvic floor is tightly welded – who knew?!? No prob, thought I, I’ll just doggy paddle, relax, catch my breath, and erm, go for it. But no…. every time my front crawl slowed towards a rest pose in preparation for the much needed pee, several rescue kayaks came whizzing over to me to see why I’d stopped – ‘are you ok miss?’, ‘are you struggling?’, ‘do you need help?’. Arghh!!! Yes, I’m struggling to pee in front of you all!!!! 4 failed attempts later amidst much unneeded rescue commotion, I zipped up, gave up and embraced swimming in other people’s wee instead.

After…well there’s that dang smile again…

Thoughts of today: I have swum a mile in a loch!! So it seems perfectly logical that in my other hobby, I will be now be able to do a half marathon. I’m sure there must me some law of physics whereby one equals the other…..oh but someone has just told me there is another option – ‘swimrun’. I reckon I can guess what that entails, watch this space.


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