I’d had it in mind that this weekend I really needed to start putting some distance in. I’d planned to get to the Lido on Saturday morning to do a couple of kilometres. Then last week a friend asked if I’d like to join her on Saturday morning at Shepperton Lake. Shepperton is a swimming lake next to the Thames close to Staines which is open over the summer for open water swimmers to train and practice in. I’d never been before, but it seemed like a good chance to check it out and to do my two K without the boredom of having to swim up and down the Lido for an hour trying not to bash into triathletes.
Saturday morning did not dawn auspiciously. I had been out with a couple of good friends the night before and drunk the best part of a bottle of rosé wine. I wasn’t exactly hungover, but I certainly wasn’t exactly box-fresh, either. However, I managed to get myself and my stuff together, albeit a bit late, and to get myself to Shepperton in time to pull up in the carpark right next to Ian and Katherine as they arrived.
I say “car park”; in fact the parking at Shepperton is a field lined with trees on the edge of the lake. You can see the water glinting through the leaves. A little way along and the view opens up to a grassy lawn thronged with swimmers. On one side is the serene loop of the Thames, the occasional kayaker or coxed four gliding past (actually in the case of the coxed four, speeding past – they were really motoring), on the other the lake. It’s a gorgeous expanse of clear water, fringed most of the way round with trees, willows dipping their leaves into the water, rushes and yellow flags. Just off the landing beach a mother duck bustled around marshalling a small fleet of six ducklings, still fluffy and cute enough to draw smiles from swimmers waiting to enter or exit the water until the last couple of babies had caught up with mum and the others. And out on the water, two big loops marked with buoys, one 450 metres round, the other 750, both of them thronged with swimmers.