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Motorway swimming...?

So, those of you who know me well will know that last year I took part in the Wiltshire Swim Challenge. The gauntlet was laid down at most of the Wiltshire Council pools and Marlborough Leisure Centre pool was no exception. The challenge itself involved logging your swim distances and aiming to swim the length of certain motorways... from the M32, M4 and M25 with the Ultra challenge being a combination of the M5/M6...

At the start of the year, with time being more limited and my old job getting in the way a bit, I was aiming for the M4 or the M25.... but as the year moved on and work hours took a side step in favour of swim hours, it seemed that the Ultra Challenge could actually be a possibility.... so with 3 months to go, it was time to step things up a bit and crack on... logging between 15 and 20km a week in the pool and with the added help of a swimming holiday to Turkey the numbers kept adding up and the total inched ever closer as 2019 drew to an end....

Then of course, as it the way with these things, disaster struck as I pulled my back out of sorts one random Monday morning reaching for the phone charger.... a day of physio, ibuprofen and lying on a hard wooden floor wrapped in my dry robe for warmth and (more importantly) comforting factor, another day of more ibuprofen, lying flat on the bed, tissues and reading materials (Outdoor Swimmer... of course!) to hand, a day of more ibuprofen (thinking about getting shares in a pharmaceutical company about now), some hobbling about with hot water bottles and more tissues, until finally an almost normal upright stance and so on until finally 6 days later a tentative return to the pool. That first swim felt like heaven and hell all rolled into one.... so pleased to be back in the water after what seemed like an awfully long time... yet so appalled by slow speed, poor technique and inability to breathe as I tried to protect my back from potential 'ouches'.... In hindsight, I probably should have waited a few more days (or weeks!) but impatience and 'The Challenge' got the better of me.... On I swam!

Finally on the Sunday before Christmas.... with just 64 lengths left.... a loyal group of Soggies gathered in the pool to help with the counting and to ensure that there might be a few 'whoop whoop's' to be heard on the final lengths.... so to mark the occasion and to make their early Sunday swim worth missing their lie in for... Soggies were able to cheer and whoop to 50m butterfly as the last few sploshes were sploshed.

What started out as a bit of fun and a motivation buster for those cold dark nights in January, ended as being really rather important to me. In September when I realized how doable the challenge actually was, and how very annoyed I would be to have missed the distance by a few hundred metres, it took on a whole new role. It really did give me the push to get me out of bed as the cold and dark of the autumn and then the winter mornings arrived. It got me chatting to people in the pool who I had seen many many times and who now asked me excitedly 'how many more lengths to go?'. Hopefully it gave the lifeguards and the DMs at Marlborough Leisure Centre some amusement too.... especially on the days when Grumpy Tamara turned up and just slapped the water in disgust!

A huge thank you to the staff at Marlborough Pool for setting the challenge, for keeping a watchful eye over all the swimmers, as ever, and for adding up our lengths every month. An apology to Charlotte for my impatience over numbers appearing at the end of the months! But of course... the biggest debt to MBW for putting up with the early starts, the wet kit hanging around the house and the constant smell of chlorine lingering as I pass....

There's a new challenge for 2020... swim the length of the South West Coastal Path...... Watch this space!



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