Ok, we’re back! Back to swimming! Having really enjoyed Charming Dan’s twice weekly training sessions at Tooting Lido last year, I had duly signed up for the sessions this year. They were due to start the first week in June, so I started doing a bit of training in the hope that I could improve my fitness prior to the sessions starting. I had tucked three K under my belt at Shepperton and was very pleased with that. Hopefully I wouldn’t entirely embarrass myself during the first sessions. And so the time for Rio Squad training came closer as the days lengthened, the sun strengthened, the water started to warm up, and the beginning of June rolled around.
And June duly arrived, bringing with it typical British summer weather, which is to say that you’re lucky if it’s not actually snowing. We were lucky – it was not actually snowing. The night before the first Rio Squad training session the severe weather warnings across the whole of Southern England were merely for thunderstorms bringing unfeasibly large amounts of rain and ferociously high winds. Questions were nervously posted on Facebook: “Haven’t swum in the Lido yet this year – should I wear my wetsuit for swim training tomorrow?” Answers ranged from “I’ll be wearing mine!” to “Frankly if you’ve got two I’d wear both of them” and the succinct yet informative “Yes!!!!”.
When I got up at five thirty on the great day the rain was still pouring down and the trees were whipping to and fro in the wind. For a moment I hesitated, wondering whether I should wear my snuggly Zone 3 wetsuit, its neoprene panels ranging in thickness from 3 to 5 mm, or, as I’d planned, my old Aquasphere swimskin, made out of neoprene 0.5 to 1mm thick. The Zone 3 is much, much warmer but the Aquasphere would be better for getting acclimatised to the cold. I stiffened my mental sinews – the Aquasphere it was!
When I arrived at the pool the best you could say about the weather was that it had stopped raining. The board in the office window said ‘Pool temperature 16°’, but that board always says ‘Pool temperature 16°’, whether the temperature actually is 16° or, as in this case, somewhat lower….. As I was nervously getting myself sorted out in the dressing room Emma arrived and we commiserated with each other about our idiocy. Emma had been to see her grandmother, a dementia sufferer, over the weekend, and, on being asked what she was doing that week, replied that she was starting her open-water swim training. “Oh”, replied her grandmother, “I do wish you’d get that seen to.” I couldn’t help feeling she had a point.