At last, the open water season really gets going...and what a weekend. Unlike this time last year, when unseasonally cold weather had left the water barely in double figures when the local lakes opened for swimming, a week of glorious sunshine meant that both Bosworth and Swan Pool (my usual local haunts) were around the 16 degree mark and ready for some decent swimming...and without so much as even a post-swim shiver.
So, on Saturday morning, I went to Bosworth and did 90 minutes, followed by a splendid breakfast in the van with Peter, who had cycled over, and Penny, who had been swimming as part of her Ironman training. To be honest, this wasn't my finest swim - I felt tired after about an hour and bit out of sorts, and I didn't feel like I was swimming very well. Perhaps I was just out of practice - I know from previous years that it has taken a while to get back into the mind-set. But it felt good to get the open water phase of the training going.
Then, on Sunday, I went to Swan Pool and did another 90 minutes...although this time, I absolutely loved it and the time flew by. The water was crisp and relatively clear, since even though it's been warm, it's too soon for the weed to have come up (although I did have a rather odd coating of green slime trapped under my costume when I got out). This was a much better swim, and I felt more like my old self again, happy in the water.
On Sunday night, Peter and I drove down to Lechlade in the Cotswolds in the campervan, where we joined Neil and Jessica, and Neil's parents, on a campsite right next to the Thames. Lovely. We had originally planned for Neil and I to swim on Monday, with Jessica paddling for us, but unfortunately, Neil had come down with a bug, so in the end, I swam with Jessica in the canoe, and Neil, his parents, and various dogs following alongside on the Thames path (although we lost them at one point when they were lured away by a riverside cream tea). The swim was just glorious, and the higher up the river we went, the more deserted it was. At one point, I thought that we were going to run out of swimmable water as it was getting quite shallow, reedy and muddy, but then suddenly, it opened back out and deepened, and we spent a happy half hour in glass flat, tree-sheltered river completely uninterrupted by anything other than the occasional duck. Perfect.
I had a wonderful couple of hours of swimming, and by the end of it, felt like I'd relocated my distance-swimming head and could have swum for hours. I'm still not in anything like the shape I need to be for Catalina, but this was a great first step....plus a wonderful way to spend a sunny bank holiday. Many thanks to Jessica and Neil for a great day.
In the mean time, Peter was doing a 107 mile bike event around the Cotswolds - a long, hot, hilly day as part of his preparation for cycling the Etape this summer (a mountain stage of the Tour de France). It was fantastic to see him cross the finish line (and in remarkably good shape too).... another step towards his goal.
So, a fabulous bank holiday weekend - wonderful weather, lots of time doing activities that we love (swimming for me and cycling for Peter), and a chance to charge up our batteries ready for the beginning of term.