I must admit when I first heard about Swim Britain a couple of years ago I wasn’t sure. I couldn’t quite get my head round what it was and thought other people might struggle too. Is it a charity event like The Swimathon, is it a swimming race or is it just a bit of publicity hoopla for the sponsors British Gas? Actually it’s none of those things. What it is is a bloody good day out for people of all abilities who like to swim.
We’ve taken part for the last two years now and I really hope there’s one next year which we can take part in (rather worryingly the numbers were down this year, but I don’t know if that was deliberate because last year it was quite difficult to get around the course without someone swimming over you).
Admittedly we were very lucky with the weather on Sunday, especially for this time of year. Taking part in an outdoor swimming event at London Fields Lido could have been a very different experience if it had been cold and chucking it down. But even so I still think we’d have enjoyed it. What I like about the Swim Britain event is the team aspect and the fact that everything has been done to make the swimming as exciting as possible by having to swim around buoys rather than just ploughing endlessly up and down in an overly chlorinated indoor pool.
Everyone knows how great swimming is for clearing your mind and how good it is for your body as you don’t have to put too much pressure on your bones to have a great work out. But let’s face it, like other forms of exercise, it can get a bit dull at times. We put up two teams: a team of three Dads and a Mum, representing Team Goggleblog, and four kids, aged between 9 and 12, who all swim for North London’s Barnet Copthall Swimming Club.
As many of the kids swim an astonishing eight times a week, I was in two minds whether to enter them into an event which isn’t part of the official competition calendar knowing how tough the swimming regime can be at an elite level. “Why do I want to swim on a day I don’t have to,” my own son said the day before the event, before being tempted to rejoin the team on a promise of pizza with his friends afterwards!
But I’m glad I did enter the kids into the event because it reminded them that a) swimming can be fun and that b) it’s actually a great team sport (actually they already know all about b. because there is actually great camaraderie in the swimming club between the swimmers).
There were other reasons they thoroughly enjoyed the event too. For example the freebies including towels, googles and of course more T-Shirts than you can fit in a drawer . Last year, there was lots of give aways too, but this year they had really thought about things and rather than just giving them away there were lots of competitions to win various prizes. Name the longest river in the world? What’s the capital of Burkina Faso? That sort of thing.
Then there were the celebrities. Double gold medal winning Olympian Rebecca Adlington (above) was lovely and relaxed, taking time to sign autographs, pose with the kids as well as get the proceedings underway. Also at the event was Paralympic swimmer Jessica-Jane Applegate and Freddie Woodward who delighted the kids with being able to do a back flip while standing on the poolside!
Oh yes and then there was the swimming. I nearly forgot. In the end the kids thrashed us adults (somewhat predictably), swimming the 4 x 1km event in a stunning time of 1:05.35 and narrowly being beaten by another group of older kids from another swimming club. But us adults didn’t disgrace ourselves either. All of us achieved Personal Best times from last year’s event. Perhaps because it was slightly easier to swim without so many people to bump into, but we’ll claim it is down to our improved fitness levels. We were also chuffed to finish in fourth place out of 16 teams in a respectable time of 1:27.08.
Many thanks to my great friend Geoff Crawford (http://www.gcphotosite.com) for taking the time to come down and take some lovely pictures which you can see in this article and the gallery below.
Disclosure – Goggleblog were provided with two free team entries for the event at London Fields Lido. The cost is usually £40 per team (but still very good value!)