Thursday, 28 August 2014

Guerrilla Swimming

It's approaching 1700hrs on a hot and sultry Friday afternoon.  I look over the office partition in to the next bay and get a nod from a co-worker.  The guerrilla swim is on!

I am fond of wildswimming - or as it used to be called, 'swimming'.  But there are few options to swim outdoors in the center of the UK.  Swimming is prohibited in reservoirs - hence the 'guerrilla' nature of what we were about to do.

We drove to remote carpark and parked up.  Three of us were in attendance (my work colleague and one other wildwater fan), each clutching a small bag containing towels, trunks (and one wetsuit), googles etc.  A 20 minute walk through woods brought us out at the reservoir.  We quickly de-robed and put on our trunks, stashed our bags in some bushes and entered the dark waters.  The sticky warmth of the evening was quickly replaced by the wash of cooling water.

The reservoir is perhaps 250m wide.  I wasn't actually sure I could make it across but one of my colleagues (an experienced waterman), had brought a swimming buoy that I could attach to myself and cling to if needed.  I'd also brought my fins so knew that I would be quicker than normal (although driving these bad-boys certainly worked my legs in unexpected ways).

Several minutes of hard finning and the three of us had made a successful traverse.  On the return a short dog-leg detour took us to a large tower at the head of the dam, and then a short swim took us back to our starting point. 

My fins are large so there was some serious work to keep them moving, but swimming on my back in the water and looking up at the sky and the brids arching overhead.....was blissful.

After some 30 minutes in the water I hopped out to dry off and return home whilst my two colleagues continued to explore the further reaches of the reservoir.

I've since been back several times to swim these waters and have found an alternative route to this venue (en route from my regular journey home from work); a rambling half-hour walk through fields gilded with wild berries and dark, cool woods verdent with ferns, all of which adds to the sensory richness of the experience.

That swimming in conventional swimming pools could ever be as rewarding......

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