Last year I blogged about my first ever proper sporting event, the 2017 Swim For Logan in aid of Cystic Fibrosis Trust. It’s a lovely one-mile fun-swim for a great cause and people really enjoy it. However, when I did it, I was in the middle of a series of operations and I found it shockingly painful. Afterwards, a friend asked if we could do it again next year and although I’d spent most of the swim in a state of near panic, she’s my mate so I said yes.
I managed to block it out of my mind for a whole year, until yesterday, when the same friend texted to ask if I was doing it TOMORROW.
Now, I really respect friends who show up no matter what. Doesn’t matter if they’re clever or sporty, in a fancy outfit or jeans, or if they own a Jaguar or an old bike: turning up is cool. Any arsehole can mwah-mwah kiss the air beside your head and call you “lovely” but not everyone’s prepared to get sweaty. So here’s my sporty mate, asking me to show up: of course I will.
Please don’t let it be as painful as last year. Oh God, it’s going to be…
First up, I have a cold. I’m a total snot monster. I’ll probably die.
Secondly, I’ve not swum a whole mile since the last Logan swim. Why exactly did I not train? Why? I might actually die.
Thirdly, I’ve been using my 15y/o cheapo wetsuit as a handbag and it’s knackered. (Yes, really. I take a camera with me and when I’m done taking photos, I shove the camera down the front of my wetsuit, which now gapes like a basking shark’s mouth. This is NO GOOD for any kind of fast swimming. Or keeping warm. Or anything.) So I go to the shop to buy a new wetsuit and, because I’m stupid, I let the shop guy convince me that I’m a size 8.
I now own a wetsuit that’s so tight, it pushes all my body fat up into my face.
Sunday morning arrives. I text my friend to say I’ll be there at 9am and she’s happy so I get happy and yey, we’re off (yes, still panicking).
I turn up at 9, pre-squished into the wetsuit because no one needs to see the tight neoprene/bodyfat wrestle. A couple of friends are milling about on the slip and the air temp is already 18 degrees. My body is cooking. I wonder which bits of skin my never-used-before wetsuit (oh God, this is SUCH a bad idea) might chafe and a friend rubs some sort of waxy lubricant on the back of my neck.
By 9:15am I’m a boil-in-the-bag human. I decide to dunk myself in the sea to cool off, so I hobble down the slip and plop in, but there’s something VERY WRONG WITH THE SEA. It stinks. It’s just a raft of slightly rotten seaweed and the world isn’t broken but, ew… I hop out, and the more I heat up, the more I smell.
Fifty-seven swimmers and hundreds of spectators show up. There are bacon butties and cakes for sale, it’s sunny, and the bay looks GORGEOUS. Everyone’s excited or nervous or both. The sea’s flat calm. The gear pole looks close (liar). We all put on our numbered yellow swim hats and the honky thing honks and Logan counts down from ten and we’re IN.
We all swim like nutters for the first hundred yards. By 200 yards, I’m gasping and this is when I realise that my suit’s too tight for deep breaths, which is PEACHY. Who needs air? I yank at the neck seal and water floods in, cooling me and loosening the suit. Now I’m a water balloon but I can breathe.
We keep swimming (go, Dory!), and this year, I’m not left behind. Yey! It’s a faster swim for everyone as there aren’t any waves, and my freestyle is still rubbish, but I’m with the group and it’s all good. We swim to the gear pole and back, and although my natural slowness is shining through, I don’t die. My stomach doesn’t hurt. My suit doesn’t chafe. It IS tiring and by the last 300 yards, I’m proper floppy – I remind myself, ‘If anyone asks you to do it again next year, just say “maybe“.’
I land in a heap on the slip, coughing and wheezing but 6 1/2 minutes faster than last year (36:21 vs. 42:51) and mostly alive this time. My friends peel me out of my suit while others take photos. I no longer care what I look like because we’ve DONE IT!
A new friend arrives, spectating and wondering if she could do it. ‘You should come with us next year!’ I say.
Yup. That’s what I said.
And she said yes.