2016 – Pete had a small list of micro-adventures. Small achievable things to do over the year. For 2017, the first of these was to compete in a national swimming championships – well, how hard could that be? The task was to find a suitable event which might allow for swimmers of a “certain speed”. Tooting Bec lido is one of the largest in the UK and is home to the biennial National Cold Water Swimming Championships. Pete entered the heads up breast stroke and with Hildi, the relay. The latter was on the assumption that it would be fairly easy to find a couple to like-minded souls to complete the four. Imagine the disappointment when all possible candidates appeared to have pressing engagements on that day. Eventually Ness, a Saltdean stalwart and Penny, Hildi’s neighbour were recruited on a promise of a hot tub outside and matching Ribena inside after the event.
Checking the start list we found an amazing 700 entrants over 114 races. Pete’s race was at 12.30, there then followed a two hour wait for the relay. So the main task there was to warm up and keep warm. The day was wonderful weather wise with a strong sun for the earlier races which meant that if you didn’t check the temperature reading, it may have encouraged one to to think of a pleasant dip awaiting. The penguins around the pool were symbolic but real ones would have been quite at home in the water which as measured at 1.5 degrees.
Organisation was spot on and at the appointed time, Pete was ushered in to the competitors area and processed like a fish finger under the watchful gaze of an oh-so efficient Cap’t Birdseye. The initial disrobing occurred on one side of the massive pool before the competitors were paraded around to the other side – at this point, Pete was regretting not bringing a pair of Dr Dre’s for his Michael Phelps moment… Arriving at the start, remaining comfort was rudely ripped away and we were instructed to enter the water. Apparently it’s a FINA (or is it HINA?) rule that shoulders need to be under before the race can start – sounds more like something made up to prolong the agony. There was a Grand National-like delay whilst the official decided that all 16 shoulders were fully immersed and then we were away.
Strange – it didn’t hurt at all. Breathing was certainly difficult at first but we soon gained a rhythm with the main objective being to reach the other side without dipping eyes into the water (to face a 3 min penalty) and once reaching the end, to climb out unaided and without whimpering. It was all over too quickly and Pete actually wanted to turn back for another width. He got the opportunity later in the relay. Pete was down to take leg 2 from Hildi. The same arrangement as before, Pete now feeling like an old hand, led the way with Penny to the far side. There was no delay in getting into the water, although Pete found himself willing Hildi to greater exertions as he waited for the changeover. Hildi presented Pete with a good position to maintain and he managed not to be overtaken to hand over to Ness. In the final leg, Penny was just holding position but then switched to back stroke and which point she began to be overhauled but held on by about a tenth of a second. Nail biting and teeth chattering stuff.
As well as the swimming, there were the hats to admire, from the beautiful to the bizarre. Pete & Hildi are in discussion about a possible team hat theme for 2019. No results available as yet – will update. Hopefully 2019 will see at least one complete BMC team. Such fun.
Pete the Bike