Earlier on in the summer I decided to take part in the Ordnance Survey campaign to #GetOutside more, and pledged to swim in a lake. As those of you who are early adopters of Splodz Blogz TV already know I have now fulfilled my pledge by having a cold but great swim in a lake close to home at the weekend.
Having failed to take a dip in a lake when it was much warmer either in Scotland (yes it was warmer in Scotland!) or in any one of the eight countries we visited on our Europe motorcycle tour, I was left with only one option as I could see – the activities lake a handful of miles from my home here in Lincoln. Activities Away is a great place for watersports, including jetskiing and canoeing as well as open water swimming. Oh and I found out on Sunday they have just bought some standup paddleboards too – excellent! It’s on the outskirts of Lincoln, and offers open water swimming that isn’t quite wild – there’s a couple of “courses” to swim, a safety boat, decent changing rooms and showers, and a cafe serving hot drinks and bacon sarnies for when you get out!
Activities Away in Lincoln, a large lake for swimming and other water sports.
I chose swim in a lake as my pledge for two reasons. The first is that it’s been on my bucket list since the beginning, one of a number of things that still remain from that original list. I think I actually put “the great north swim” on there as well, although I’ll need to do some serious swimming before I want to attempt that. The second reason was that open water swimming is something I used to love when I was younger. A true water baby, I was always happiest when I was on or in the water – and while these days I seem to be in the water an awful lot less, it still makes me smile. I am a lot less fit these days so cannot frolic about in the sea for hours on end, but I was intrigued to see whether any of my technique remains. With all this in mind, swimming in a lake made the perfect way to #GetOutside in a different way for me this summer.
On Sunday morning I headed over to the lake ready for my dip. The air temperature was just nine degrees Celcuis, so a definite chill in the air, but I’d made my decision to go and I’d told twitter, and lots of people had favourited my tweet so I wasn’t going to chicken out!! When I arrived I spotted the water temperature sign immediately… 16.7 degrees – eek! That was going to be a bit chilly. I was definitely going to need neoprene!!
The lake before anyone braved it. Air temperature 9 degrees Celcius. Water temperature 16.7. For my Fahrenheit loving friends that’s 48 degrees and 62 degrees respectively. Or – cold.
After signing in and paying my money (£6 for a “one off swim” – I’m not ready to sign up long term yet) and getting into my wetsuit (always embarrassing when you have to go back for a bigger one), I wandered down to the lake edge and had a look. There were probably only two or three other swimmers in and all of a sudden the lake looked huge. There are two marked circuits – an 800m circuit goes all the way around the lake, and there’s a shorter 200m track if you cut across to the bright orange buoy in the middle. In the olden days I’d happily swim around the larger loop a couple of times, albeit slowly (I’ve never been a racer and my front crawl has always been sloppy), but I wondered if I’d even make it around once now. I chatted to the guy at the desk about depth and he said I could easily stand up around the edge and it’s fine to hop out of the water at any point as there’s a trail around the outside, so I decided I’d be ok giving it a go.
I entered the water and was pleasantly surprised. The wetsuit I’d borrowed was fairly thick and I didn’t feel the cold that much. The lake deepens quickly and I was soon up to my neck, so I got my goggles sorted and headed off in the required clockwise direction. Being in neoprene I had some added buoyancy, which was welcomed, and I used that to my advantage as I breast stroked my way around the edge of the lake. The lake itself is so clean, it was easy to see the bottom (when my old goggles weren’t steamed up!), and it’s good to know the team test the water regularly to ensure there are no nasties in it.
My lap seemed to take forever, but I didn’t matter. After about 50 or so metres I made my way to the edge and stood up to take it all in. I was feeling good; smiling and not shivering, relaxed and not worn out. I carried on, stopping two or three more times as I made my way around; my endurance is nothing but a few seconds with my feet on the floor and I was ready to get going again. When I got back to the start I got out and had a drink and a sit down for a bit, and watched others get in and out of the lake. By now it was much busier, lots of people had come down to spend their Sunday morning in and around the lake – what a great atmosphere, it seemed like a happy place.
After a break I decided I’d make my pledge a nice round 1km and got back in the lake and did the shorter 200m loop. This seemed to take as long as the 800m I’d swum before and I knew I was tired. I was also getting cold, so it was time to get out – it’s no surprise that I ached the next morning!
The sky (and lake) was much bluer by the time I got out.
Once out and in dry clothes I grabbed a cuppa (and a free apple) from the cafe and went and sat on one of the jetties to watch the better swimmers do their thing. I had listened to a group talk about the 3.8km they were planning to swim, and spotted them as they went around. There were swimmers of all kinds; those with very well practised technique, some who were going round and round the big loop, others who would do the smaller loop before getting out for a rest. I remembered lots of times as a child and teenager when I’d had so much fun in the water, and was pleased I had rekindled some of that.
Thanks Ordnance Survey for the idea and for encouraging me to make a #GetOutside pledge this summer. It is done. Another bucket list item ticked, and this one definitely had the feel good factor.
Check out the video on Splodz Blogz TV…
What new outdoors activities have you tried this summer? Share! 🙂