65@65 SWIM #35, CHRISTMAS EVE, THE THAMES AT IFFLEY LOCK

Updated: Feb 24

This one was unexpected, but should not have been. Emma had a swim-aversary, she had swum every day for a year. Every single day, outdoors, rain, wind, shine, snow and shower. Sleet and hale, sun and moon. You get the idea. This is a difficult thing to do, and Emma is a super athlete, triathlon, iron women, and lovely lady all in one. “This is one of your 65 isn’t it?” she quizzed as she opened her door. ‘Yes, of course’, in truth I was into the spirit of Christmas and had taken my eye off the ball. Emma got me focused very quickly, “do you have your sign?”, my 65@65 sign. ‘No, forgot, sorry’. “We’ll make one”; ‘put your swim-a-day on the sign too…’ Which she did. So I am honoured today to be linked with her swim event, swim-aversary, truly honoured. Emma lives a short walk a little downstream of Iffley Lock, Oxford, which winds its way South of the city, out of the city. Every day, when not swimming elsewhere, this is where Emma swims, this is her patch, her territory, her aqua-tory. I have swum here before, but an anniversary is special. Today (and on previous days), the Thames is high and fast, and walking down, through mud and across puddles we sight it in full flow, fast and narrow, racing, careering down. ‘Each cubic meter of water weighs a tonne’ I think to myself. I will do the calculation later – how many tonnes will have shifted in the short time we are in the water. A lot. A whole lot – respect the water, especially today. Neil is first in, as always, arms and head first, and across the river, pulled downstream as he swims a vector to get across. I swim upstream with Emma, Federica, Deya, Alex, Crista, Kristie. Neil gets out on the other bank, and we are photographed by a posse/pelleton of fit lycra lads who stop to take in the scene. Neil calls for others to come across – first Kristie, then …, then Federica. I bottle it today. Deya agrees, is it too fierce. By the time I think and decide to swim across, they have walked upstream to swoosh back down to our side of the bank. I feel like I have cheated myself, but this is today, and tomorrow there will be another swim, another swoosh, and even without getting across to the other back, I do not regret this swim.


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