Back in February 2020, I blogged about how excited I was as a spectator for this year’s big events, including The Vitality Big Half 2020, Virgin Money London Marathon 2020, Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, particularly the 10km open-water marathon swim at the Odaiba Marine Park.
Due to COVID-19, the above mentioned events were cancelled or postponed (new dates for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games are 23 July to 8 August 2021) and my personal experience of lockdown life has involved changing priorities and pace of life along with a lot of online shopping to rearrange my small flat to suit working from home and keep myself amused.
Luckily, with the exception of the OCR World Championships I had only committed to participate in one event this year, Dock2Dock 5km swim, which has not been cancelled. This swim is currently scheduled for Saturday 12 September.
Having been cast off and adrift without swimming, I’m now anchored down (to abuse a metaphor) and back in the water as lockdown restrictions are easing and outdoor swimming venues are opening and operating within COVID-19 guidelines.
My first swim of the year was on 5 June, at Liquid Leisure in Datchet.
A month on, my swimming fitness is improving and I’m not missing swimming pools one bit. I’m loving outdoor swimming so much, I doubt that when pools reopen, I will be in the queue.
From an almost existential crisis to finding freedom, fulfillment and enjoyment through outdoor swimming; I need a very good reason to visit a leisure centre (a hot tub and sauna could tempt me).
Given my location in South West London, I am fortunate to have several open water venues in close proximity. My chosen lakes/venues are Liquid Leisure in Datchet, London’s Royal Docks and The Haven, Bedfont Lakes Southside. The latter two venues require NOWCA membership (approx. £12 per year) and sessions can be booked using the app ACTiO.
NOWCA (National Open Water Coaching Association) offers a selection of safe swimming lakes and venues around the country, operated under the supervision and guidance of qualified coaching staff.
If you’re in the UK and looking for a safe place to swim, NOWCA is a great resource to help you dip your toes.