And then it was the day itself! Fortunately it was sunny, which lifted the spirit, and when we arrived at 8am the site was already bustling, as supporters of soloists and relay teams got themselves into key positions on the benches by the pool. The car park was rammed. Supporters were sorting out free tea and biscuits while latecomers put up tents on remaining bits of grass, reminding me of the sad souls who arrive at Latitude on Friday night and yomp mornfully around in the dark desperately seeking a pitch amongst the mass of canvas.
One chap had one of those enormous outdoor pillows which he’d positioned on the ground at the end of a bench next to the corner of the pool. He was already ensconsed in it, earbuds in, busy on his phone, when I arrived, and as far as I could tell he never moved for the entire twenty four hours except to get himself into a sleeping bag when night arrived and it got cold. God knows what his role was or why he was there; I certainly never found out.
As nine am approached there was a rising feeling of anticipation and muted excitement. People stopped stowing their bags and sorting their equipment and drifted towards the pool, where the soloists were readying themselves. The organisers got themselves microphones, and everyone pressed forwards towards the shallow end, where swimmers were casting off robes and settling their goggles. The organiser made an admirably short, sharp speech and then we all started the countdown. “Ten, nine….” all the way down to “three, two, ONE, GO!“, as, with a huge cheer, the first swimmers hit the water. The 2017 2Swim4Life had begun. Oooh errr!