Each year South London Swimming Club takes on the Serpentine in a battle of the cold water swimmers. The 2017 edition is coming up on 19 November so we thought was time to reflect on our experience at the 2016 Gala.
For a couple of years Mandy, SLSC swimming co-captain, has asked us if we would like to take part in a gala. Our initial keenness usually fades when we find out the details i.e. in the lido at the end of November.
The 2016 winter however had been relatively mild. We had also been regularly attending the Sunday morning races and therefore felt that it wouldn’t be toooo bad and agreed to swim.
In 2016 the gala took place on 20 November 2016 when I (Katie) was told I was swimming in a 4×1 width medley relay team. Luckily I was doing the freestyle leg. Manda despite being unwell was prepared to swim but luckily someone else took her place as I am not sure cold water swimming is the way to cure a chest infection.
We stood round chatting to all the SLSC swimmers as I waited for my race. Finally we were up! I always get quite nervous before I get into cold water as I can never quite remember how bad or not bad it is. Also at 7 degrees the water was a bit colder than the last time I had swum. In the end it wasn’t too bad and we won our race. As I climbed out I was grabbed and told I was needed for the cannon race. This is a 10×1 width freestyle. I wasn’t quite prepared for this and stood shivering on the side in my skimpy towel until the next race began but in the end it was good fun.
And after the races there was cake (what I really came for). I really enjoyed the gala and it was nice to swim as part of a team which is not something I get to do often.
The Serpies won overall – apparently the teams take it in turn to win and it was their turn. Bizarre I know, but just like cold water swimming, it really doesn’t matter how fast you are, all that matters is that you take part!