In the swim


Despite showing a passing interest in Sunday’s London Marathon from the comfort of his bed, the only running Doughnut now seems to do is in his sleep – he is chasing rabbits in dreamland as I type. As I can no longer count on him as my running buddy I have been forced to explore alternative fitness regimes. So last night I paid a very rare trip to our local swimming baths.

I hadn’t been to that particular pool for ages – not since the kids were really little. The memories came flooding back the moment the waft of chlorine hit me at the turnstile. The slightly grimy tiles, the pointless mopping of water round the floor of the changing room and the gruesome discovery of hair and God knows what in the plughole. Once you’d made it in and out of the pool there was that endless post-swim search for clammy socks and the fight for the weedy Telly Tubby style hair drier – you got a better blow dry standing in front of the automatic doors.

But what did I see the moment I turned into the changing rooms? A warm, dry changing room with not a child in sight and women chatting away as if they were on holiday as they finished off their make-up or headed for the showers. There were even lockable lockers that weren’t warped and didn’t clang and, best of all, heat and space. So the only time my feet got wet was in the shower and when I chose to dip my toe into the water.

The water was, initially, freezing but by the time I’d done one length it felt like a bath.  Everyone there was on a similar mission – to attempt to get fit. Some by pounding up and down the pool like Ellie Simmonds, others like me, drifting up and down the slow lane taking full advantage of the wash from the butterfly boys to propel them up and down the pool.  The other two girls in my lane were multi-tasking. They’d planned an entire wedding, from venue to menu, by the time they’d finished. The atmosphere was competitive, but gentle. “Excuse me, can I just overtake?” asked the young man behind me, giving me a smile and a wide berth. When I caught up with him at the shallow end he was gripping his foot and trying to be brave. “Cramp!” he said through gritted teeth, “that’ll teach me.”

I managed 30 lengths and I think I can feel the benefit – a slight tightening in the tummy area this morning, which must prove there’s a muscle tucked away in there somewhere.

I’ll never be able to skim through the water freestyle like Ellie, but I will be back, and I might even join next weekend’s swimathon for Marie Curie – if you nag me enough. Candis Club has supported Marie Cure and raised over £5.5 million since 1998 so here’s another way to do us all a bit of good. The Swimathon takes place this weekend (26-28 April).

Anyone can enter and join the countrywide sponsored swim. All you have to do is pledge to swim 1.5k, 2.5k or 5k – I almost managed to swim 1.5k on my evening pootle up and down the pool! You can enter online and then spread the word to all your friends and contacts. Last year 645 local swimming pools took part, so you shouldn’t have to travel far to find a pool nearby. And you might even catch the swimming bug. Give it a go and let me know how you get on by leaving a comment below or tweeting @AmandaAtCandis.

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