Friday, February 23, 2018

In the Swim - it's all in the togs, isn't it - Nude Swimming for beginners

I have obviously got to that time of life where something inside me rumbles to push out of the comfort zone and so on March 11th this year I am participating in the Sydney Skinny Swim

- the ‘Skinny’ bit of the title referring to the unclothed nature of participants rather than a radical change to my outline which remains frighteningly robust in nature - it is in fact a nude ocean swim. The nudity bit is not concerning me that much, in that I am more worried about the fact that being a typical Brit, my preferred, and indeed only stroke, is breaststoke, with my head held high in a manner that generally ensures that I emerge from the water with my hairstyle intact and as immaculate as ever.  I am therefore more stressed about the chances of me a) drowning or b) finishing a good hour after the rest of the swimmers rather than the fact that I am going to be minus my togs when completing it.  Interesting fact - based on the random survey of my group of friends who along with me were invited to join in this event, the British, New Zealanders and Dutch are marginally more likely to take their clothes off, whilst their Australian counterparts, in a total defiance of national stereotypes, are robustly, almost to a woman, refusing to countenance entering the water naked.

I am also finding it somewhat alarming that the most common response to hearing I am about to bare all, is how brave I am and I wonder if I am misleading people somewhat, as in my mind I am just going to nip down some beach, into the water, swim for my life (literally) and then re-emerge dripping and reach for a towel- (the only thing that does worry me is being pulled from the water by a life guard who has mistaken the British breaststoke for the last gasp of the drowning - and if that occurs it won't be a pretty sight), however people are talking about this rare outbreak of nudity on my part as if I was proposing to go and conduct a television interview in the nude or something equally outre, so I am beginning to wonder if there is a catch I haven't caught up with eg a parade of stripped swimmers prior to the big dive.

The whole event is raising money for Brain Cancer research and I am also swimming/stripping in order to raise funds for Chris O’Brien Lifehouse in Sydney through a Just Giving page that you can access here:

Lifehouse has been the Ling family home from home during the course of our daughter Harriet’s treatment over the last five years.  The hospital is an integrated and focused centre of excellence, offering everything a cancer patient needs in one place.  As we as a family know, they support not only the patient, but the entire family in a holistic and caring way that makes living through the stress of diagnosis and treatment much more bearable.

So far my practice sessions have not been uniformly successful with one ocean swim resulting in my swimming into an armada of bluebottles, the Australian version of Portugese Man O' War jellyfish, and getting robustly and comprehensively stung - fortunately I was in my swimsuit for this outing limiting the extent of the stings to just my arms, the mind boggles, and eyes water, to think what the experience might have been like, had I been nude. Following this pretty painful experience that also included a couple of days itching like a particularly deranged Mexican bandit, I have focused on practising the nude side of the event and restricted my dummy run activities to floating in the bath.  However come March 11th, I will be giving the event a good go and crossing my fingers for no bluebottles and a finish before the next wave of competitors start.