As part of my Gold Challenge, I had to do some form of swimming. However, figuring that anybody could just walk down to their local pool, jump in and splash around for a bit, I wanted to do something a bit more interesting.
So I decided to do some open water swimming – to brace myself against the elements and currents and overcome then! But then, that didn’t seem entirely cool either… It just all seemed a little…pointless.
Much like running a lap or cycling a circuit – what’s the point in doing these things if you don’t actually achieve anything along the way? Why cycle 100 miles, to end up where you started, having done nothing but cycle along the way?
Instead, why not cycle to the source of the Thames and bottle the water? Why not cycle to Wales and watch the sunset over a mountain? Thus is was with swimming too; why leap into a pool and simply swim until you reach a predetermined time or distance? I understand it for training purposes, but not as an EVENT.
I therefore decided to swim ACROSS something. Something a bit cool. Something like the English Channel, Lake Windermere or the Hellespont. However, not really knowing how to swim or owning anything more suitable than some Billabong board shorts, I had to be realistic about my choices. I had to choose something pretty cool, but not something likely to kill me…
Something like the highest lake in all the land. In fact, why not the highest lake in all the land?!
So, friends, that’s what I did. Once again with trusty adventurer, Simon Lowe, we drove to Malham Tarn in the Yorkshire Dales, donned our ludicrously unsuitable swimming attire, and struck out across it.
It was…horrendous. Sure, getting in was the hardest part but, within moments of plunging into the icy waters and heading for the far side, my breathing was short and panicked, my strokes fast and stunted, and my hands and feet were going numb. By the time we reached the other side, our skin was red and burning. We’re still not sure why… [Edit: we have since learned that, as well as being a protected area, this is an acid lake…]
Then we swam back again.
It took a while for the feeling to come back into our toes and, for the rest of the day, we suffered a little from odd lung activity. Even so, we successfully crossed the lake and – though it was no huge distance – I wouldn’t have wanted to spend another moment in its freezing waters.