GSA Hon Sec, Jo Hallett, writes:
“This sounds exciting,” said Rob, my sporty son-in-law, “it’s a 4 km open water relay in the Blenheim Palace Lake – you up for it, Grandma Jo?” “Why not?” I replied, without really thinking. // A few months later, I found myself squeezing into a cut-down beach wetsuit in a marquee near the lake which looked brown and cold, despite the sunshine – it turned out to be both! // We had 2 teams: the Earlsdon Eels and the Hearsall Haddocks, with four people in each. The route ran out from the edge of the lake and back, around a series of buoys. That was 250 metres, so we swam round 4 times in turn, a total of 1 km each.
Walking down the ramp into the dark, chilly water, timing chip safely secured round the ankle, was just the first challenge! Once in the lake, it’s “every man for himself”, no allowances for grandmas like me. It’s a competitive race, with elbows flying, legs kicking, bodies whizzing past, even over the top! You have to keep your nerve. Rob had indeed warned me that such events are “a bit physical”! // Because we went in and out of the water 4 times, it was pretty cold, but drinks, snacks and space blankets were provided. It was all very exhilerating and jolly, and the sun shone! Finishing, I felt a great sense of achievement: I had made it! But what’s more, I was swimming for GSA and Let’s Read. Sponsorship money from my generous friends and family came to over £500! In the end, our teams did OK, We were not the first, but we weren’t the last either. The fastest of us swam 1 km in 20 minutes and I took 32 minutes. But I did find out later that I was the oldest competitor in the Open Water event. Not bad for 69!!”