Saturday 19th Jan: Swimathon ambassadors day in London!
As part of the ambassador role, I had received an invite for the launch event, talks and a quick dip with Swimathon president and Olympic gold medallist, Duncan Goodhew. That kind of opportunity doesn’t come along everyday so I grabbed it with both hands! After a frantic but ultimately fruitless search to find a way to London incorporating a Parkrun, I jumped on an early train bound for London!
It was a bit of a mix of emotions, awesome opportunity for some swimming, slightly nervous about the video/camera pieces that were going to be required as I haven’t really done any of that before! Three hours later I rolled into London and with a bit of time to kill, strolled across town, taking in the sights and doing the tourist thing!
I hate being late for things and rocked up to the pool really early; the pool had a full blown Swimathon display out with all the advertising posters and balloons: I think I had found the right place! The guys from Swimathon and my fellow ambassadors began to arrive, we sparked up some swimmy conversations and had a quick get to know you in the foyer! Most of the other ambassadors hadn’t come too far but some had travelled from as far as Newcastle and Glasgow and we had a complete mix of abilities and distances signed up for.
Official proceeding began with an inspiring chat from Duncan on the beginnings of Swimathon, the fantastic work and money raised for the charities over the years and the overruling message of Swimathon being a #swimforall, regardless of your background, there’s a challenge for everyone and its simply about involving as many people as we can and raising as much money for charity as possible! I wish I had recorded his talk or at least written bits down but I particularly remember the statement along the lines of, you will need to get out of your comfort zone and think of all the ways you can to get people involved with swimming and Swimathon. OK, noted! Already out of my comfort zone to be honest!
Next we ran through the ambassadors, it was pretty inspiring to listen to some of the others, their backgrounds and their challenges. Some of the guys had only recently learnt to swim, some had great stories about their swimming journeys, all amazing stuff! I was the first ‘triple 5k’ ambassador to stand up, and I almost felt bad that my background is a lot of swimming and my challenge was just going to be pushing the distance for 45k…but that’s my challenge! Bad at least until Ester stood up and said she was doing two 5km Swimathons a day for ten days…for 100k; now that’s a challenge I’d struggle with; well jell (and secretly plotting to see if I could slip a few more in!!!). It was clear there was a complete mix of abilities and challenges; exactly the spirit of Swimathon, swim for all, pick your challenge and get involved regardless of who you are or where you have come from, there’s something there for everyone!
After a quick lunch, I went for a piece to camera. Out of your comfort zone, got it. I watched one of my fellow ambassadors do their piece and was really impressed with their fantastic, coherent, answers; I just hoped I could hold my own! Before I knew it, my piece was over, I tried to get across my love for swimming…but I did find it really hard to think on my feet and give a decent answer, really hope its ok! On the way back upstairs I went back over some of the questions and came up with much better answers…too late now! Out of comfort zone, tick.
Back in the room I got chatting with Duncan, I dint really know what to expect before hand but he was super easy to talk to, giving us anecdotes from his swimming past and listening carefully to our stories and answering our questions. His love of all things swimming is abundantly obvious and I soon found out he swims regularly outdoors open water all year round, the guy just went up significantly in my estimations!
Once all the pieces to camera were done, we went for our swim lesson! Back in my comfort zone! Between the ten of us we had two lanes so quickly sorted a rough lane order and set off for Duncan to have a quick look. Over the next 45 mins or so, we swam various drills, looked at parts of our stroke and Duncan gave us tips and individual things to work on; mine I knew, push all the way through! It was a cracking opportunity for a lesson with someone hugely passionate about swimming! A tip I found a fascinating insight was to constantly move your hands through the water when you are on the wall. We always talk about feel for the water…well why aren’t you feeling it when you are in it?! Its a great question!!
After the lesson we reconvened for a quick debrief, and another reminder of our roles; get as many people involved as we can! There was just time for a quick selfie and a signature in the book he kindly gave us…and it was time to sprint back across London for the train home. What an awesome day!
On the way home with Duncan’s words ringing in my ear, I started plotting to get out of my comfort zone and try my best to get people involved!
edit; two days later I was well out of my comfort zone again, filming a quick piece for the National pool and Swansea council. I kinda thought I could keep in on the low down…but that’s really not how social media works! It has already been seen over 3 thousand times and was quickly doing the rounds of my friends! Just found out its on the local paper too!! Outside your comfort zone; that’s where the magic happens…!
Edit two; Amazingly, my dad has now signed up for the 400m at his local pool! Luckily, I had that day spare…so I’ve gone and signed up for another 5k too to keep him company!