Time to wallow!

Time to wallow!
Time to wallow!

With Time marching on, somehow we find ourselves at the biginning of May. It is time to get some proper training in and what better way to start. Over the last few months my time and energy has been focused on other things but My Loch lomond swim and also the river Waveney and a few other swims that are lined up loom large. I need to actually do some training. I have the mental side covered but the physical side of things is sorely lacking at present.

In the UK, the month of May not only means that we are willing, the temperatures to escalate, so we can enjoy the longer days, but for those that love to wallow, we look forward to the lakes opening up so that we can leave the confines of the pool and give the chlorine trough a well deserved rest. It also means that actual perfume will work properly again and you will not be a smelling of chlorine and your hair will actually start looking like hair rather than straw. Now all we have to look forward to is duck mites, blue green algae, duck poo and of course, the odd altercation with a swam or two, and for those taking on ocean swims, the lovely taste of sea salt. Yes, all the lakes are now open and living in Surrey we are absolutely spoilt for choice at the amount of lakes that we have in the near vicinity. So with the weather looking promising, it was off to the lakes for three lakes in three days. My body does not know what has hit it. With VERY little training over the winter and alsmost entirely in pools at 26 degrees plus (79 fahrenheit), dropping down to temperatures hovering around the 13 degree mark (55 fahrenheit), is a bit of a shock to the system. After a few minutes in, my body starts to get with the programme, feeling to outer extemieties all but disappears, the mind lets them go to focus on the main part of my body and the wallowing begins. The sound and the feel of the water becomes normal as my mind dredges those feelings an emotions, left dormant since August 2018 in Loch Lomond, from the depths of its memory bank and the feeling of exhileration takes over. My body is soon in seventh heaven. I surprise myself in the speeds that I maintain. As this is the start of the season, the swims are short and sweet, between 1.3 and 2km long. my biggest surpise is how I am maintaining the speed that I thought I would lose due to lack of training. Settling in around the 1 min 25 per 100m, my mind and body switch into to cruising mode effortlessly. All the reasons why I love this sport come flooding back and fill me with joy and thoughts of How lucky I am that I can do exactly what I am doing at that moment.

This year I have ventured slightly further afield, Still in Surrey, but a little further than what I am used to. One thing Open water swimmers do enjoy is trying new lakes and not necessarily training at the same one over and over again. The organisers are generally undersanding of this fact and are also very accomodating to make our lives as open water swimmers very easy and enjoyable.

Hippo in d House! Scott and I catching up.

So On a lovely Friday evening I find my self driving through the astoundingly picturesque Surrey Hills, which is an area of outstanding beauty. They are not wrong. With the rollling hillls stretching around you and the quaint little villages you pass through, it is a beautiful part of the country to get lost in. And that is exactly what my destination is. You can be driving along the road and not even realise that a mere few metres off the side of the road, nestled behind the hedgerows, is a stunning little lagoon. An old quarry, that is now the home of http://www.thesurreyhillsadventurecompany.com/ The acronym being “SHAC” is quaintly appropriate. An amazing location that I stumbled across last year when I did my Swim coaching course with Keri-Anne Payne. I did drive past it a few times trying to find it but I am very glad I did. Run by the amazing Scott Skip Innes. He does a fine job of welcoming Swimmers, paddleboarders, yoaga and outdoor entusiasts to this very lovely rustic location. A must for any outdoor swimmer wanting to hone their skills under the watchful eye of Scott and his team. They offer Open water coaching and have offered me their facility to do my coaching as well. The lagoon itself is ideal for those new to open water with the edge not being more than a few meters away at all times on the 400m loop and often shallow enough to be able to stand should there be a need to. It is attached to a much bigger lake/quarry that is used by the piscatorial society but there will be a few events in the bigger quarry later in the summer. I have fond memories of doing my coaching course there in the frigid temperatures of April last year and I hope to make many more happy memories there and assist Scott and his team in sharing the joy of our sport with many others in the years to come.

It may not have state of the art showers and changing facilities but what it lacks in that, it makes up for in charm and charisma. In all honesty, my enjoyment, and that of many swimmers that I know, comes from the people, not the facilities that a venue has on offer. This is where the Team at the SHAC excel. If this was just slightly closer for me, it would definitely be my summer haunt but I do intend to make the most of this wonderful little gem in the Surrey countryside. Over the years Scott has built up a large repertoire of outdoor events catering for kids to Much bigger kids (adults). With plans afoot to put on events as well, I can only see this litte oasis of outdoor fun grow in strength and popularity.

As the weekend progressed, I found myself in two other of my regular haunts on Saturday and Sunday. There was the usual looks of bewilderment from fellow swimmers – often covered from head to toe in neoprene – at the madman wading into the water well endowed with my Bioprene. The winter has been good to me! With the weather being what it was, it would be rude not to. Overall, I was very pleasantly surprise with my times and achievements over the weekend. As it was my first time this year in the colder water, I stuck to pretty short swims and after each swim I felt my love and passion for the sport that has become very much a big part of my life ebbing back into my mind and I look forward to a very good year ahead of wallowing but more importantly, passing the love of this amazing sport onto others and watch them set their dreams and goals and achieve them.

So now the training for the Zimhippo begins in earnest and I am looking forward to wallowing in the lakes and also meeting up with friends from the past and making new friends as My Journey continues.

Happy wallowing and I look forward to seeing many of you in the rivers, lakes, oceans this summer.

Should you or your friends be interested in taking the leap into Open water please feel free to contact me on graeme@zimhippo.co.uk and I will be delighted to make our transition into the open water as fun and fulfilling as it can be.

As you are here, this webpage has a plethora of blogs on many of my swims and other aspects of Open water swimming so please enjoy perusing what possibilites await you on your journey.

About the author

Ameteur Endurance athlete and marathon swimmer Having taken up marathon swimmng in 2008 with the challenge of the English Channel, I then continued on to Cycle up Britain, Kayak across Scotland and run a few marathons. None of those held the draw that marathon swimming held so in 2014 I was back in the water to Swim one of Switzerlands iconic endurance swims, lake Zurich. In 2015 I opted to take on my biggest swim to date. SCAR challenge.- 4 lakes in 4 days with distances Ranging from 6 miles to 18 miles.

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