Whilst I was working with a client in my Banbury clinic, she told me all about her experience of the Great North Swim. After she finished talking she said “I would recommend it to anybody, you could do it!” Her comment simmered on my mind for a day or two and I found myself googling things like “how many lengths in a mile”, “places to swim outdoors”, and “are there jellyfish in UK waters”

Eventually, after a fun swim set at Bannatynes, I decided to sign up! In this post I will tell you about my swimming experience to date and how I’m feeling about the event…

Born To Swim!

Or not exactly…

I remember enjoying swimming as a kid. But I had a fear of putting my face in the water. At school I refused to swim through the underwater hoop, which meant I never progressed to the next level of lessons. As a result, I only learnt doggy paddle and (later) head up breast stroke.


As a teenager I, like many girls, became conscious of my body. I tried running to lose weight but I was too unfit so my knees hurt and it made me sick! So instead I turned to swimming. I would go to the pool and I wouldn’t leave until I’d done at least 100 lengths of that head up breast stroke. Many people said they were impressed by my dedication. Unfortunately looking back I feel it came from an unhealthy obsession and poor body image. Although I got a sense of achievement after, I wasn’t happy and I certainly wasn’t swimming for fun! Eventually the swimming was replaced with running again.


I returned to swimming in my second year of uni. This time it was a much more positive experience. I was happier in my skin and more confident. I also used swimming to relax rather than putting pressure on myself to swim a certain pace or number of lengths.

The university pool was Olympic sized, but sometimes it was divided into two so that different activities could take place at the same time.  One evening I was chilling out in one side whilst this interesting looking game went on in the other. I spotted one of my friends playing and cornered him at a party later to ask about it. My friend told me the sport was called waterpolo and that the girls team were short of a player for their game in Glasgow the next day. Being a little tipsy, I assured him I could step in!

The next day I was picked up and briefed on the rules in the car on the way up. I really enjoyed the game, though I don’t remember if we won or lost. From then on I became one of the team, much to the first coaches dismay! Once in training I remember him exclaiming “I can’t teach you to swim AND play waterpolo!” Luckily, later in my time at the club a much more supportive coach began working with the girls team!


I didn’t play waterpolo for a year or so after uni, but I did receive technique coaching sessions with Paul Wingrove. Aged 26 I finally learned to swim with my face underwater! (Though I’m still working on that…)

Eventually I found a waterpolo team in Witney. I now play every Sunday evening and I always find the swimming drills the hardest part!

The Great North Swim

I entered the Great North Swim to give myself a new challenge and an incentive to work on my swimming endurance. Hopefully that will carry over to my waterpolo! Although the sport keeps me fit, it doesn’t work my endurance very much. Most of my land training revolves around strength and power too so I do find I get out of puff when swimming lengths!

I’m feeling excited about the event and I know the scenery will be stunning up at Lake Windermere. I’m confident I have enough time to train up to the distance (1 mile).

However, I’m a little apprehensive about swimming in open water, with the added features of currents, cool temperatures and THINGS that might touch my feet!!

If you have any tips on training or swimming outdoors (especially if you know of anywhere in Oxfordshire to do it) let me know during your next massage!

Me and Lewis (my later waterpolo coach)

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