My swimming career started in Teignmouth Lido on the South Devon coast. As I lined up on the blocks with my fellow competitors, I asked the officious looking official what stroke I could do. “Freestyle… any stroke you like” he answered. The gun fired. I dived in and pulled myself through the water with every ounce of energy I had. As I touched the wall I could hardly believe it – I was all alone! I had won by a clear margin! The small plastic, gold-painted swimming trophy and ‘Fresh Milk’ sponsored t-shirt would be mine to treasure forever.
“Disqualified” screamed the same officious official, holding aloft a flag. What! No! Surely not! How was I to know that when he said ‘any stroke’ that did not include a full length underwater without rising for a breath? The trophy and ‘Fresh Milk’ T-shirt (a retro version of which would be very cool festival attire today) would not be mine. I cried for a day and half. I was 6 years old. I still bare the scares thirty years on!
Hoping to right this wrong I am VERY excited to be swimming to Bestival. Yes I can swim long distances. I’m the ‘swimmer’ in an Ironman Triathlon relay team. But even an Ironman distance swim is only 3.86 km. I can’t even imagine how many times I’ll suffer with severe leg cramp or how big the wetsuit rub will be on my neck after 7 km! A couple of friends who have swam this distance have said, “Don’t worry – if you can swim 2 miles then you can swim 4 miles”. This makes no sense to me. It’s like saying to a marathon runner, “Don’t worry, if you can run 26 miles then you can run 52”! I desperately want to believe them!
I’m swimming with my lovely brother Matt and together we are raising money for WaterAid, whose vision is of a world where everyone has access to safe water and sanitation. It’s crazy that this even has to be a vision in this day and age! Yet 884 million people still don’t have access to safe water and one child dies every 20 seconds from diarrhea caused by unclean water. Let’s support making this vision a reality. PLEASE, please consider sponsoring us: http://www.justgiving.com/swim-to-bestival or text FDRG84 £5 to 70070. We couldn’t make it any easier!
Thanks! See you on the other side…