Saturday, June 12, 2010

In the Cold, Cold Water

My friend Deb wanted to try out her new wetsuit (it is size Extra Small, I hate her). She's a really really good swimmer, Deb, but only four feet eight inches tall. This is why, at a really rather short five feet four, I've always felt a bit on the tall side - it comes from a childhood spent with Deb and her sister Jo who's a gigantic four feet ten.

So off we went to Ilkley Lido where, as mentioned yesterday, I spent a lot of time as a child and loved it.

It's a delight. Since the time when I used to go there, they have built a new heated indoor pool next to the outdoor 1935 Lido. You put your clothes into a plastic box and give them to the attendant - it's all very relaxed and a bit like a trip back to the Sixties - always a good thing if you ask me.

Around the pool is a lovely grassy area, great for picnics, and there's a cafe too.

But at ten o'clock this morning the only swimmers in the Lido were the hardy outdoor types.

You can't take photos there - shame! So here's one that I took:

I didn't take it illegally - I talked to the manager and sounded Respectable (not always easy to do when wearing a swimsuit and goggles, but I clearly managed it).

The pool is almost round: on the right-hand side of the photo is the shallow side with the fountain that we used to play in. On the left, in the area that's separated off by a rope, is a long swimming area - considerably longer than a normal pool.

Deb was delighted with her wetsuit and said it kept her really warm. Jo decided that the water was just too cold to swim - it was about fourteen degrees Centigrade - but she enjoyed sitting in the sunshine.

I was a bit worried about the cold before I got in, mostly in case I got cramp in my bad leg. "I don't know why I'm worrying," I said to the attendant, "if I was at the seaside I'd just go in without thinking about it."

"Yes, well, it's probably colder than the sea," said the attendant cheerily.

However, I decided to give it a go and went straight down the ladder into the deep water.

My feet were cold - - my hands were cold - - but it really didn't seem too bad so I just started swimming. After a length or two this coldness wore off and I felt as though I was glowing all over. After a few more lengths the glowing feeling went away and I just felt - - well - - fine.

It was wonderful, swimming in the open air, with birdsong and sunshine. I swam for about forty minutes and then Deb got out so I did too - I didn't want to get too cold.

All my life, of course, I've been swimming at every opportunity in the sea around the coast of Britain, and it's never been exactly warm. But I thought I might find it a lot harder to swim in the Lido than I actually did.

So I've learned something today. I may be short, and broad and very shy in many social situations, so only really at ease when working, generally, and not in my first flush of youth - - - but I can swim very easily in water that's too cold for most people.

And, as with all swimming, I loved it. I'll be going back there as soon as I can.

But, for the Great North Swim, I need a wetsuit, because you have to wear one if the water's cold - and it almost certainly will be, in Windermere. And buying a wetsuit that fitted was my next task.


Blogger Jennyta said...

Why on earth can't you take photos there?

8:21 pm  
Blogger Ailbhe said...

Most public pools have a blanket no-photos rule now, often extending to a no-mobile-phones rule.

9:32 pm  
Blogger Yorkshire Pudding said...

If your theory is correct - that you can tolerate colder temperatures than others when swimming - may I suggest a training trip to Spitzbergen - a Norwegian island well inside tha Arctic Circle but please watch out for the polar bears as they're not like the friendly one that used to appear in ads for Fox's Glacier Mints.

9:53 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's not illegal to take a photo tho. They would just ask you to leave (and probably phone the police if you seemed suspicious).

9:15 am  

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