Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Swimming in Ilkley Lido Again - with Ducks

In a couple of weeks' time I will be doing the Great East Swim.  Last year I did the Great North Swim - a mile in Windermere - and was surprised by how very much I enjoyed it.  I've always liked swimming in the sea, lakes and even rivers sometimes but I wasn't sure if I would enjoy such an organised event with big crowds..

But it was VERY well-organised, the lake was big enough to get away from the crowds, and I loved every minute of it.

So this year - - Alton Water, near Ipswich.

Although I swim very regularly in the local, heated pool and do a mile every time, swimming outside is a different thing.  For one thing, for the Great Swim series you have to wear a wetsuit as they can't risk hundreds of swimmers getting hypothermia.

I prefer to swim without a wetsuit and am generally pretty good in cold water.  But I hadn't worn my wetsuit since the Great North Swim last summer.  So I needed to practise.

So off I went this morning, assisted by Stephen, to Ilkley Lido .  It's a big and beautiful open-air pool, built in 1935.  There's a large circular bit with a fountain in the middle, and a long bit for swimming lengths joined on to one side of it.  As a child, I wasn't allowed in the long bit as it's deep, but that's where I swim now.

It wasn't heated in 1935, and it isn't heated in 2012.  It's jolly cold.  Fearnville, where I usually swim, is about 29 degrees Centigrade.  The Lido usually starts the season at about 14 degrees Centigrade.  But because of the rain during the past few days, today it was a distinctly chilly 13 degrees.

There are usually a few hardy souls swimming up and down but at 10am this morning, rather to my surprise, there was only me.  Two lifeguards came out specially when they knew I was there.

It took me a while to get used to the wetsuit again.  It is too big for me and it takes a few lengths for the air in it to squeeze out - until then I feel I'm like one of those water-beetles, skating along the top.

But after that - - ohhh hurrah, I loved it! 

When I'd done eighteen lengths (which is about thirty-six lengths of an ordinary pool) I was joined in the water by two ducks which flew over - presumably from the nearby River Wharfe - and landed quite near to me.  I nearly swam into them a few times but they didn't seem to mind, just swam around preening themselves..

Then a few more swimmers turned up - they were clearly Proper Swimmers and much faster than I am - - but I was still swimming when they'd all done their lengths and got out again.

I stopped at forty lengths, which is a few lengths more than a mile - -  but by now I'd got well into it and felt that the Channel would be well within my capabilities (I can tell you now - it wouldn't!)

Because the water was so cold, my hands and feet were numb and turned absolutely scarlet when I began to warm up. And the worst thing of all - - I couldn't speak for a while as my face was completely numb.  The only bad thing about a lovely morning. 

You'll be delighted to know that my speech is now completely back to normal.  Roll on the Great East Swim!


Anonymous Ruth said...


1:43 pm  
Blogger Jan Blawat said...

This makes me feel really guilty that I passed up water aerobics in a heated pool yesterday because it was cloudy outside. You make me feel like such a wimp.

3:36 pm  
Blogger Yorkshire Pudding said...

"You'll be delighted to know that my speech is now completely back to normal..." Mmmm...I bet Stephen can't wait till your next ice cold dip!

4:15 pm  
Blogger Silverback said...

Lets see now : Diamond Jubilee Bank Holiday, Ilkley open air pool, water temp 13c, 10am.......I'm surprised you even had 2 ducks for company !

9:26 am  

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